This summer you can help accelerate Idaho’s transition from dirty fossil fuels like coal and methane gas, to low-cost, reliable clean energy. The Public Utilities Commission wants to hear why you support Idaho’s clean energy future. Here’s how you can speak up and be a Climate Hero!
For the first time ever, Idaho’s three major electric utilities have all roughly come to the same conclusion – leaving coal plants and transitioning to clean energy sources like wind and solar, is the best path to keeping our energy costs affordable and our energy system reliable.
Each utility company has developed a long-term plan to assess Idaho’s demand for electricity and the portfolio of resources the companies will rely upon to meet this demand. But these plans all assume Idahoans aren’t ready for this transition, or at least we need decades to get there. Now is the time to tell our utility companies and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that Idahoans are ready for rapid action and we want clean energy to protect our air, our health and our economy.
Because you can’t pick your energy provider, state law gives you the power to guide your utility company’s decisions and investments. So, as the PUC reviews each utility’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the PUC wants to know what kind of energy future you (the customer) want.
While each of Idaho’s three utilities, Avista, Idaho Power, and Rocky Mountain Power, have submitted plans basically supporting a clean energy transition, the pace of change is too slow to adequately protect our climate. And while each utility plans to invest in clean energy, they are not planning to focus these investments in Idaho. Now is the time to speak up and tell your story of why investing in Idaho’s clean energy future is important to you.
Avista – Bringing clean energy to Washington, but what about Idaho?
Avista serves the cities of North Idaho. Based in Spokane, Avista owns a portion of the massive Colstrip coal plant in Montana, the 3rd dirtiest plant in the country. The utility plans to exit this plant in 2025 to comply with a new Washington state law.
To meet expected energy needs, Avista plans to invest in wind and storage projects around the region because the analysis shows these are lower cost and more reliable than coal. But Avista is vague on whether they will bring these benefits to Idaho or ask Idahoans to continue to pay for the coal plant, despite their own analysis that indicates Colstrip is a bad deal.
Rather than sticking Idaho with expensive coal power, we want Avista to invest in Idahoans by increasing energy conservation programs, and ensuring that Avista’s Idaho customers have a proportionate share of all the clean energy Avista distributes.
Now is the time to speak up and say you support rapid action to transition to local clean energy.
Idaho Power – Committed to 100% Clean, but what about Idaho customers?
Idaho Power is our largest electric utility and provides power to 65% of Idahoans across the southern part of the state. Recently they committed to 100% clean energy by 2045, which is fantastic news. And, due to ICL’s advocacy, they shuttered their coal unit, Valmy #1 in Nevada, in December 2019.
However, Idaho Power’s strategy to replace this coal power could leave Idaho behind. You probably recall their attempt to strangle the rooftop solar market by changing net metering. While the PUC rejected that effort, Idaho Power’s IRP does not even consider whether more customer-owned generation is the right thing for Idaho.
Instead, the utility plans to build the massive Boardman to Hemingway transmission line from southwest Idaho into Oregon. We are concerned that Idaho Power is not committing to connect specific clean energy projects onto this line, and plans to rely on the “market” to supply clean power.
Instead of a vague reliance on the market, Idaho Power could commit to more local clean energy projects like the Jackpot Solar plant south of Twin Falls. That plant will deliver some of the lowest-cost power ever seen. And there is more clean energy potential just waiting to be tapped in Idaho.
Now is the time to speak up and tell the PUC that you support Idaho Power’s 100% clean commitment, but you expect your utility to invest in Idaho and its customers.
Rocky Mountain Power – Leading the West away from coal, but slowly
Rocky Mountain Power, also known as PacifiCorp, is a massive utility that serves Idaho’s southeast corner and five other states. As the largest owner of coal power in the region, Rocky Mountain has an enormous impact on our air and climate. Like most utilities, though, they are moving away from coal and deep into clean energy. While good news, this utility is attempting to allocate more clean energy to its customers in Oregon and Washington, while sticking customers in Idaho with legacy coal costs.
Meanwhile, all the clean energy Rocky Mountain Power proposes to develop is wind power in Wyoming and solar Power in Utah. Where is Idaho in this picture? Southeast Idaho has excellent potential for solar and wind projects that integrate with its many agricultural fields. For example, solar projects located next to fields can host important crop pollinators in the shade of solar panels. And wind towers can provide farmers and rural communities with tax revenues while allowing crop production to continue. Idaho is also home to the Idaho National Lab – a leader in studying how power systems and batteries can work together to be more reliable than far-flung power plants.
Now is the time to tell the PUC you support Rocky Mountain Power’s plan to retire coal plants, but you expect them to invest in Idaho and its clean energy resources.
Be a Climate Hero and Speak Up for Idaho’s Clean Energy Future
For the first time ever, each of Idaho’s three major utilities has a similar plan and the PUC is reviewing them within a similar timeframe. This summer is your opportunity to ensure the clean energy future we all want also grows Idaho’s economy. By supporting the transition from coal to local clean power, we stop sending our energy dollars out of state and invest right here at home. As Idaho seeks to recover our economy from COVID-related stay at home orders, now is the time to be a climate hero by telling the PUC – I support clean energy and I expect my utility to invest in Idaho.