The company that provides most of southern Idaho with its electricity is ready to incorporate solar power into its portfolio for the first time. Idaho Power's foray into solar will be relatively small.
Currently about half of Idaho Power’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams. A little more than a third comes from coal-burning power plants in neighboring states. There’s some natural gas, and about 7 percent comes from privately-generated, renewable sources, mostly wind. None of it, though, is solar.
Last week, the state’s Public Utilities Commission approved two commercial solar projects for southwest Idaho. Eleven more are awaiting approval. All are scheduled to be operational by 2016. Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin says when the two approved solar projects open, they’ll generate between 1 and 2 percent of the company’s power. If all of the proposed projects are built he says 5 percent of Idaho Power’s electricity could come from solar.
“Clearly, hydroelectric is going to continue to be the core of our generation portfolio,” Bowlin says. “The coal and the natural gas are going to continue to be important parts of that mix.”
Bowlin says if the projects materialize, more than a third of Idaho Power’s summertime electricity could come from renewable sources, not including hydro-dams.
Click here for in interactive chart showing the breakdown of Idaho Power's current energy sources.
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