Energy

The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, is among the speakers who will attend the inaugural Intermountain Energy Summit in Idaho Falls this week.

The Aug. 19-20 conference will feature panel discussions on the future of energy policy and production in North America. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, are also among the speakers.

The Post Register reports that one theme of the conference is the energy potential of Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The New York Times reports more than two dozen energy projects in the West have been scuttled because of sage grouse, at least one of those projects was supposed to be built in Idaho.

The sage grouse represents a much bigger challenge for states like Idaho than its turkey-like stature might suggest. The bird is considered an important part of the high desert ecosystem, but it's sensitive to man-made development and its numbers are declining.

Graphic Artist: Sam Cornett / Solar Roadways Indiegogo

The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw is the head of Solar Roadways, a company that proposes using solar panels to pave the nation's roadways.

The electrical engineer from Sandpoint, Idaho, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear from vehicles and inclement weather while generating electricity.

Interactive Map Pinpoints Idaho, U.S. Wind Turbines

Mar 3, 2014
usgs.gov

If you’ve driven across southern Idaho in the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen a lot of wind turbines. But have you ever wondered how many there are? Now you can count them and get stats on each one with a new interactive map.

Two large pieces of oil equipment crossing the Northwest are expected to start moving again after the New Year's holiday.

January 1 is the end of the era of your standard, soft white Edison-designed incandescent bulb in the United States. Or at least, in theory.

There’s a new debate raging over the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant. But it’s not about safety or how to dispose of nuclear waste.

Idaho Power Co. can spend tens of millions to clean up its Wyoming coal-fired power plant and expect ratepayers to cover the project's cost, but regulators want quarterly updates on whether these emission-control investments continue to make sense as federal environmental rules change.

Announced Monday by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the decision aims to ensure Idaho's biggest utility isn't locked into the estimated $130 million project if alternatives to coal emerge as better for ratepayers.

Idaho Power, LaMont Keen
Courtesy of Idaho Power

Idaho Power Co. Chief Executive Officer J. LaMont Keen is retiring at year's end, to be replaced by the company's chief financial officer. Darrel Anderson will step in for Keen Dec. 31.

The state's largest utility made the announcement on Thursday. In a press release, the chairman of the board of directors of IDACORP and Idaho Power, Robert Tinstman, said the company is grateful to LaMont for his more than 39 years at Idaho Power. Keen has led the company since 2006.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Bureau of Land Management Tuesday approved most of a 990-mile-long power line that's being built on public land. But a section of the line, about 295 miles in Idaho, were deferred. That means the BLM will hold off on the OK for that area until stakeholders along the line’s route can come to a consensus.

The Gateway West project will run from Wyoming across southern Idaho. It's an effort between Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management signed off Tuesday on the route for a 990 mile long power line. But it's left two sections of the Gateway West Project, which will stretch from Wyoming across Southern Idaho, undecided.

Roy Luck / Flickr Creative Commons

The biggest railroad in the Northwest forcefully defended the safety of oil trains Wednesday.

It happened at a meeting in Seattle of environmental regulators from the West Coast. The context is the rapid rise in crude oil trains coming to the Northwest from North Dakota and this summer's deadly explosion in Quebec.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe hazmat expert Patrick Brady calls that train accident "an anomaly."

Imagine running power lines through a cathedral. That's how archaeologists describe what the Bonneville Power Administration proposes doing in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. The federal electricity provider is trying to string a new transmission line near a cave that contains ancient paintings, a site considered sacred by Native Americans.

Columbia River
Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Northwest history is colliding with the need to upgrade the region’s electric transmission grid. It’s happening on a windblown patch of riverfront property at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Bonneville Power Administration is trying to build a new transmission line across that land. But conflicts over historical preservation have increased the cost of the project to $185 million and stalled progress for more than a year.

The federal agency that watches over the nuclear power industry is taking a close look at the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington this week.

That’s because the plant had a problem with the cooling system for a room of important electrical equipment. It wasn’t properly maintained. Energy Northwest self-reported the issue to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC spokesman Victor Dricks says the public was never in any danger, because there were backup systems in place.  But he says it's still worth a closer look.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

At a Utah meeting this week, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter blasted President Barack Obama for seeking to limit coal-fired power plant emissions while not allowing sufficient timber cutting to tame big Western wildfires, another greenhouse gas source.

Otter told reporters Idaho wildfires send more carbon dioxide skyward than is released to produce coal-generated electricity used by the state's 1.5 million residents.

The governor's numbers may be technically correct.

Port of Vancouver USA

Oil refiner Tesoro and a terminal operating company named Savage detailed plans Thursday for the biggest crude oil shipping terminal to be proposed in the Northwest. It would be located on the Columbia River at the Port of Vancouver, Washington.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The homes of the future will come with remarkably low heating bills. At least that's the hope of a Portland-based non-profit showcasing 13 super energy efficient homes in four Northwest states. The question is, can you afford to buy one of these houses?

The model homes are scattered among many of the big cities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The houses don't look unusual from the outside. But all have been designed to use at least 30 percent less energy.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

The U.S Energy Information Administration studied the amount of carbon dioxide that was pumped into the atmosphere between 2000-2010. Idaho contributes a low amount, respectively, compared to other states. Only California, Vermont, New York and Washington D.C. have smaller carbon footprints per capita.

But Ben Otto at the Idaho Conservation League says this report doesn’t show the full picture.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

You may have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. So far this year, the region’s wind industry has faced a different story. 

Not a single new wind farms is under construction in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been that way since 2013 began. Compare that to last year’s boom, which increased wind capacity in the region by about 20 percent.

PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's photostream / Flickr

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in a letter Friday he will step down from his position at the end of this month. 

In his time as U.S. Energy Secretary, Chu pushed for growth in renewable energy and clean tech innovation.

Chu led the department during President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. The department divvied up about $3.5 billion in the Pacific Northwest.

Much of the money went to projects that helped develop energy efficiency and smart grid technologies.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Northwest power utilities have been pushing for energy conservation. It’s a way they can keep up with their customers' future demand for electricity. There are plenty of incentives if you buy an energy efficient appliance. But these days, utilities are finding more inventive ways to promote awareness.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Idaho Power must honor its obligation to purchase energy from wind farms. But it stopped short of taking enforceable action while the Idaho Public Utilities Commission decides how to rule on the case.

Gene Fadness is a spokesman with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. “This order comes even before we’ve made a decision," explains Fadness. "The wind developers wanted something before a commission order hoping that that would perhaps sway the commission in their deliberations.”

Ada County

Ada County Commissioner Dave Case grilled executives from Dynamis Energy Friday morning.  The Eagle-based company wants to build a plant at the Ada County landfill that would turn trash and tires into electricity.  Case, though, failed in his attempt to bring an end to the county’s contract with Dynamis.

Ada County

Ada County Commissioners want answers  from the CEO of a company that plans to create energy from garbage.  A citizens group has accused the County and Dynamis Energy of fraud.  Commissioners have called a meeting on the project for Friday morning. 

Eagle-based Dynamis Energy plans to convert garbage to electricity at the Ada County Landfill.  County Commissioners gave the go ahead for the project about two years ago. They also provided the company with $2 million for design work, but the project is now behind schedule. 

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