Idaho Power Company explained Thursday its February study on the effects of integrating wind power into its system to about 50 energy company representatives, attorneys and wind developers, many of whom questioned the integrity of the power company’s report.
Idaho Power’s study focused on the effects wind would have on its hydroelectricity facilities, and some at the meeting criticized the company’s lack of attention to other power sources – namely gas-powered turbines – as an alternative to offsetting wind costs.
The study found that the wind integration would affect hydropower, because the company might need to fall back on its system of dams when wind doesn’t blow. Idaho Power says it will have to pass costs for the hydropower backup onto customers.
Several people at the meeting, including Glenn Ikemoto of Idaho Wind Farmers, said that’s not true because the report failedto adequately consideralternative forms for compensation.
“I think the report isn’t focused on using the lowest-cost method to integrate wind into the system,” Ikemoto said in an interview during a break from the meeting. “They’re too focused on hydropower, and there are better ways of doing things.”
Idaho Power representatives said they’d consider Ikemoto’s comments before taking action, and they said they’d probably schedule another wind meeting soon.
Their report stems from an Idaho Public Utilities Commission agreement that allowed the company to halt integration of energy produced by large wind farms until it could study the effects of wind power in its system.
The power company is required by law to incorporate alternative energy into its power grid. A federal tax break passed for alternative energy producers about two years ago instigated a massive influx of wind entrepreneurs to Idaho, especially the southern part of the state.
Idaho Power said it will hold more meetings soon to further discuss wind, namely interconnection costs to bring wind farmers into its power grid.
By Matt Christensen
16 March 2007
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