Library filed under General from Idaho
Wind turbines, those domineering and swooping machines of clean energy growing in both numbers and popularity, are being noticed by lawmakers. Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, introduced legislation Tuesday that would relieve commercial wind farms of paying property taxes and instead require a form of excise tax - a “production tax,” he said - through 3 percent of their annual gross revenue. Eskridge and energy lobbyists said the owners of the turbines rarely have enough capital to pay property taxes immediately. The law would give them additional time by taxing their energy output, as well as give investors a chance to make steadier payments and provide counties up to 10 percent more money for 20 years. A similar measure passed in the House last year but stalled in the Senate.
Idaho Power Co. says it wants to let more small wind-power developers sell power to the utility — but only if they shoulder some of the costs of integrating wind into the company’s electricity supply. Idaho Power’s assessment of those costs is already coming under fire from wind developers and wind-power organizations, who say it is more than twice what utilities in other states are charging Idaho Power is asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to reduce the rate of $64 per megawatt hour Idaho Power is required to pay to small wind projects by $10.72 to cover “integration costs” of including wind power in the company’s energy portfolio. In response, the Renewable Northwest Project, a Portland-based nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, sent a letter to the PUC asking that no action be taken until a peer review of Idaho Power’s study is completed.
It takes energy to maintain energy from small wind farms. That was the conclusion of Idaho Power’s study on the impact of wind power, which was released Wednesday. Among other findings, the Operational Impact report said that small wind farms - those which produce 10 megawatts or fewer - require the assistance of hydroelectric power to compensate for generating fluctuations caused by changes in wind speed. Idaho Power uses its hydroelectric sources to provide additional energy when small wind farms are unable to stay at predetermined power levels. The report estimates that it costs Idaho Power $10.72 per megawatt hour to offset such fluctuations. The utility wants wind farm operators to pay that expense.
The House Resources and Conservation Committee approved Wednesday a modified bill that allows businesses to lease state land for up to 49 years. The bill, which was proposed on behalf of Ridgeline Energy, a wind turbine company looking to expand its operations in southern Idaho, would permit commercial leases on state land for up to 49 years. Currently, only leases for use of stone, coal, oil, gas or other minerals can be longer than 10 years. The amended bill extends 10-year leases for businesses involved with the Conser-vation Reserve Enhancement Program, a joint state and federal plan that aims to conserve water by paying farmers not to irrigate. In exchange for keeping land dry, farmers collect about $130 per acre for 15 years, or about $150,000 total. “This is a win-win-win-win situation,” said Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, who will sponsor the bill. The proposal allows for decisions over public-land leases to be made on a case-by-case basis by the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners, which consists of Gov. Butch Otter, State Controller Donna M. Jones, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Secretary to the Board George Bacon.
The state House Resources and Conservation Committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners to decide whether public land be used for commercial or business purposes. The bill, which was proposed on behalf of Ridgeline Energy, a wind turbine company looking to expand its operations in southern Idaho, would allow commercial leases on state land for up to 49 years. Currently, only leases for use of stone, coal, oil, gas or other minerals can be longer than 10 years. As a result, decisions would be determined on a case-by-case basis by the board, which consists of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, State Controller Donna M. Jones, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Secretary to the Board George Bacon. The bill would not affect agricultural leases, grazing leases, oil and gas leases, mineral leases, geothermal leases, single-family, recreational cottage site and home site leases.
The objective of this study is to assess the costs that could be incurred by Idaho Power in modifying its operations at the Hells Canyon Complex for “integrating” or incorporating wind energy onto its system. The intermittent and unpredictable nature of wind generation requires a utility to have generating resources available which can increase or decrease generation on short notice in order to keep the interconnected power system balanced. While hydroelectric power plants are well suited for performing this function, there are operational impacts and costs associated with operating Idaho Power hydroelectric plants in a manner that maintains reliability and facilitates integration of energy from wind generation facilities. The issues surrounding the integration of wind generation on interconnected power systems are numerous and complex. This study provides a first step toward understanding those issues.
Idaho Power Co. is seeking regulatory approval of sales agreements with two proposed wind projects in Elmore County near Mountain Home. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission should decide soon whether or not it should approve Idaho Power’s request to buy power from the Bennett Creek Windfarm LLC and Hot Springs Windfarm LLC. The developer of both projects is Glenn Ikemoto of Energy Vision LLC, based in Piedmont, Calif. According to information provided by Ikemoto, the windfarms will be located approximately 12 miles southeast of Mountain Home. Both projects will consist of 1.25 mile-long rows of 12 Vestas V82 wind turbines, rated at 1.65 megawatts each.
Windland’s conditional-use permit opens a seven-year window for the wind power company to build a transmission line linking its planned wind farm in the Cotterel Mountains between Malta and Albion to existing lines owned by Idaho Power Co. Construction of the wind farm itself is slated to take place during the same period. Both phases of the project are set to be completed by 2014. Michael Heckler, director of marketing for Windland, said his company designed the transmission line’s route to cross as little private land in Cassia County as possible. Though the line will cross four privately owned lots, he said it will not interfere with areas of high traffic.
Idaho Power is seeking approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to buy power from wind-power producers. The company is hoping for 100 megawatts of wind energy from the Elkhorn Wind Power Project, to be located in eastern Oregon. Idaho Power hopes the project will deliver power during critical summer months when irrigation and other uses are high, and prices from the wholesale market are also high.
A Magic Valley wind farmer and Idaho Power Co. are close to reaching an agreement that could launch a small-farm wind industry near Hagerman. The potential deal comes after months of wrangling between the power company and two Magic Valley wind farms that could generate 200 megawatts of zero-emission energy. The battle began in September, when Jared Grover resisted paying the power company $60 million to upgrade its grid to accommodate two wind farms, Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm. Grover has interests in both projects. The power company said that incorporating wind farms from that area would require transmission system up-grades. Grover said it’s up to the utility company to finance infrastructure improvements - wind farmers already pay to connect to the power system. The power company said it’ll have to pass the costs on to customers if it pays for the upgrades.
“We’re very much in favor of alternative energy solutions,” longtime East Fork resident Carl Bontrager said Tuesday morning as the Blaine County Board of Commissioners opened their first meeting of 2007 with a session for unscheduled public comment. “But I was very surprised to find out that windmills are an apparently an allowed use as an accessory structure in Blaine County and doesn’t require any neighbor notification, hearings or anything.” What? Ultra-progressive Blaine County with someone actually questioning the appropriateness of wind-generated energy? Bontrager asked the commission to consider what -besides guilt-free electricity- a windmill can produce.
Despite the potential of wind as an alternate energy source for Idaho, a recent proposal by Idaho Power Company makes some wind developer plans seem quixotic at best. The state's largest utility wants some of the windmill wild-catters to pay for power grid upgrades to transmission lines and then some. At issue is just who should pay for the upgrade of a power transmission line in the Twin Falls area, which would be used by two wind farms near Hagerman. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is now reviewing a complaint filed by Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm. The wind farmers say that an Idaho Power plan to require small-power producers to pay for nearly $60 million in transmission upgrades threatens the economic viability of a number of wind projects. Energy developers have big plans for wind power in Idaho, which ranks as the 13th windiest state in the nation. According to the Idaho Energy Commission, 42 wind farm projects around the state are in various stages of development, with a combined potential output of 1,500-2,000 megawatts of electricity. Since 1 megawatt is enough juice to power 650 homes, current plans would be enough to power 1.3 million homes. Of course, this is only if the wind blows steadily, which it never does. Intermittency is the bugaboo with this clean energy source.
At just the time of year when work output slows to a crawl in many organizations, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is being asked to render a tough decision quickly in a case that has far-reaching implications for wind project development in the state. In September, Jared Grover, developer of the proposed Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm near Hagerman, Idaho, filed a complaint with the commission challenging Idaho Power's intent to charge wind developers the estimated $60 million costs of transmission system upgrades needed to accommodate nearly 200 MW of capacity expected from such projects. Grover's portion of this upgrade would be about $7 million, an amount he says would force him to scrap his projects and would sound the death knell for many other wind projects pending in Idaho.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments through Thursday on an application by Idaho Power Co. to enter into a sales agreement with Magic Wind Park LLC. Magic Wind developer Armand Eckert of Buhl plans to install eight 2.5-megawatt wind turbines eight miles northwest of Buhl. Under the proposed agreement, Magic Wind would not generate more than 10 average megawatts on a monthly basis.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that will play a big role in future development of wind power in the Gem State. A complaint filed by Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm alleges an Idaho Power requirement that small-power producers pay for nearly $60 million in transmission upgrades will stifle the economic development of a number of wind projects and delay development of renewable energy in Idaho. “If we’re saddled with a $50 to $60 million burden, there’s no way I could entertain any investors to take on that risk,” said Jared Grover, the developer of the Cassia wind projects near Hagerman, in an interview with CBS 2 News.
Government, companies once abandoned idea but now see geothermal power as part of energy equation
A Canadian company's plan to build electrical transmission lines might provide a way for Idaho National Laboratory to sell nuclear power someday, a lab spokesman says. TransCanada's NorthernLights project includes three electrical transmission lines in the Pacific Northwest by 2012, including two that would run through southeastern Idaho. The two high-voltage, direct-current lines — one from Montana, the other from Wyoming — would come together in southeastern Idaho and weave south to Las Vegas. They will carry energy from coal, wind power and other sources.
BONE, Idaho -- Forty-three wind turbines, each as tall as a 20-story building, rise from the rolling hills around Bone and stretch for nearly six miles across southeastern Idaho. Steve Rhodes, whose family has ranched and farmed here for four generations, admits that the windmills "took some getting used to."
Idaho Power Co., the state’s largest utility, has told the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that wind farmers should pay the millions of dollars for upgrades needed to connect them to the power grid. Wind farmers say Idaho Power should pay for the upgrades, as required by a 1978 law. The commission is hearing arguments over the dispute.
At the halfway point between the West Coast energy crisis of 2001 and the next major electricity contract renewal year of 2011, a federal power marketing agency is proposing a policy change that could affect rates in the Pacific Northwest for generations and become a national model for energy development. Northwest hydropower is one of the cheapest energy resources in the nation - about half the current market rate for electricity. The Bonneville Power Administration - which sells power in all of Washington, Oregon and Idaho and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana - announced this summer it wants to change the way it charges utilities for its wholesale power, to keep rates low.