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Activists: wind energy projects mean power bill hikes

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho – We brought you a story Monday about some stalled energy projects getting a second wind.

Thursday, some activists in eastern Idaho are crying foul.

The Energy Intergrity Project said the green light for wind energy projects will mean a big rate hike for power customers.

Wade Christensen and his wife are members of the group.

“The utility companies are concerned it would raise rate payers rates,” he said, referencing our earlier story. “Without a doubt it will.”

It starts with a federal law called the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act which requires power companies to buy energy generated by small wind turbines.

The 10 megawatt ceiling on what the government requires be purchased back by power companies was so large, Christensen said, big wind developers are taking advantage.

“I call it ‘gaming the system,'” he said. “They would take these huge industrial projects and divide them into small parcels and the utility companies would be forced to buy their power.”

Last year, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission said that practice would raise customer rates, so they lowered the energy cap to a 100 kilowatt ceiling. But developers went to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who said Idaho’s commission was wrong.

“It does give them a piece of ammunition to say, ‘hey look what the federal government said,'” added Christensen.

That ammunition may come in handy if the issue goes to court.

We hoped to report perspective from an energy developer tonight but our calls to Seattle based Summit Power regarding their Cedar Creek wind energy project were not returned.

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman David Eskelsen said in a phone interview, “It’s a very complex and a very difficult issue, and it relates to energy policy decisions made by the state of Idaho. So Rocky Mountain Power is working with all the parties to try to find a reasonable solution to settle the issues and the dispute.”