A new plan introduced last week in the House State Affairs Committee would place a two-year moratorium on the creation of new wind energy farms in the Gem State.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, is a move to ensure that Idahoans aren’t footing the bill for more expensive electricity. At the hearing on the measure, 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.
Simpson, in an interview with IdahoReporter.com Friday, said that large corporations – like General Electric – are taking advantage of a federal law, 1978′s Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), by forming small wind farms around Idaho.
PURPA, Simpson said, requires large power utilities across the state to purchase electricity generated from renewable sources if they meet certain thresholds. Simpson explained that by forming many smaller, “bite-sized” wind farms across the state, billion-dollar companies are qualifying for the thresholds and causing spikes in electricity rates because wind costs more to generate. ”Energy developers are gaming the system,” said Simpson.
The bill would not effect already-approved wind farms. Also exempt would be farmers and private citizens using windmills to generate power for private use. The legislation would require environmental studies [ends]