Articles filed under Energy Policy from Idaho
Currently, the state commission is trying to figure out how best to determine just how much solar developers should be paid by utilities for their electricity. That's to the chagrin of at least one developer, Interconnect Solar of Boise, which fears a delay ordered last week so the state could get a handle on things could doom its project.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission today issued four orders declining reconsideration of its June 8 orders that said contracts for 14 wind projects were not completed in time to be eligible for the commission's published rate.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission's decision will change how a handful of south-central Idaho developments move forward. Instead of operating on earnings projections noted below, they'll have to negotiate rates with Idaho Power Co.
The PUC agreed with Idaho Power, Rocky Mountain Power and Avista that there was no practical way to stop large-scale wind operations from bending the rules by forming lots of smaller wind farms that qualified for the published rate when they should all be considered one big project.
Rocky Mountain Power filed a motion to have the complaint dismissed, alleging Exergy did not - and still does not - have the necessary interconnection and wheeling agreements with Raft River Electric Cooperative and the Bonneville Power Administration needed to deliver the wind projects' output to Rocky Mountain Power territory.
Before the 11-8 vote, however, Rep. Janice McGeachin told the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday that she knew of two lawmakers who hadn't publicly disclosed their personal financial ties to wind projects while voting on a previous measure this session to extend a tax break for wind energy developers.
Loertscher's bill defines terms and sets out procedures and minimum standards for the placement of wind energy facilities. It would forbid counties from approving a turbine when its base would be less than 2 miles from a residential property line, unless the property owner waived the issue.
Wind farms would be forbidden within two miles of a residential property without the owner's permission, according to a measure that proposes strict new limits on where the tall turbines could be built.
House lawmakers voted 41-25 to give wind energy developers with projects nearing completion a tax break, while extending the benefit for most other forms of alternative energy development to 2014.
Roberts said that wind should be excluded because the program was designed to incentivize the creation of a new industry in the Gem State and that the rebate had achieved its purpose. "Wind energy is well-started," said Roberts.
Idahoans who have watched the debate over wind power in the Legislature and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission may remain skeptical. ...utility officials say solar power has the potential to fit Idaho Power's needs far better than wind. Both are intermittent sources. But the sun shines when it's hot outside, and that's when people use more power.
Opponents of wind energy, primarily from eastern Idaho, say that the state needs to slow down and develop a clearer plan that takes into account issues like the impact on nearby homeowners, the environment and utility rates.
Errol Jones, a member of the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning Commission, who is also for the moratorium, said at one time as a member of the board he was in favor of wind farms, but now says people need to really sit back and think about the consequences of building them.
Simpson told his colleagues that while he supports renewable energy, wind farms may be responsible for rate hikes in some areas of the Gem State.
The rebate program that exempts renewable energy developers from paying the state's 6 percent sales tax is set to expire on June 30. Meant to give the fledgling industry a foothold in Idaho when it passed the Legislature in 2005, the rebate has become central to the industry's business plans for the Gem State. Loss of the rebate would dull Idaho's competitive edge over other states.
Idaho Power said it would accept these four projects to comply with its federal PURPA mandate to accept power generated from qualifying renewable facilities but, at the same time, stated that the "continuing and unchecked requirement" for Idaho Power to acquire additional intermittent generation regardless of the utility's need for additional energy "increases the price its customers must pay for their energy needs."
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has temporarily lowered the maximum size of wind and solar plants that qualify under federal law for a program that requires power companies to buy their electricity at favorable rates.
In today's order, the commission states the utilities have made a "convincing case," to temporarily reduce the eligibility cap for wind and solar projects only until these issues can be resolved. The 100-kW cap does not include all types of renewable projects, such as biomass, hydro, geothermal and anaerobic digestion, because these types of projects do not pose the same type of issues as those posed by wind and solar.
Wind developers who are pushing to extend a tax break that has helped bolster their industry in Idaho suffered a blow because state officials say the success of the program is undermining efforts to balance the budget.
Idaho's wind industry boomed after the Legislature created a tax incentive in 2005. That incentive is set to expire this year, and opponents of wind farms see the coming debate over renewal as their chance to demand more accountability and more say.