Wind Power News: Idaho
These news and opinion items are gathered by National Wind Watch to help keep readers informed about developments related to industrial wind energy. They are the products of the organizations or individuals noted and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of National Wind Watch.
BOISE – A Hailey, Idaho-based environmental organization has appealed the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a high-voltage transmission line route through sage grouse habitat on public land and requested a halt of the start of construction. The Gateway West Transmission Line was jointly proposed by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power and would span more than 1,000 miles from Glenrock, Wyo., to Melba, Idaho, including 850 miles of 500-killovolt line. Officials of Western Watersheds say the route they prefer, BLM’s . . .
The outgoing Obama administration announced today it formally approved routing the final two stages of a massive Wyoming-to-Idaho power line project mostly outside the boundaries of a federal raptor sanctuary and across more private property and greater sage grouse habitat than critics say is necessary. The Bureau of Land Management’s record of decision (ROD) for the final two stages of the nearly 1,000-mile-long Gateway West Transmission Line Project would appear to move the project forward and end years of conflict . . .
The Bureau of Land Management has authorized the final routes connecting the high-voltage Gateway West transmission line project between southwestern Idaho and central Wyoming. The BLM’s Record of Decision, signed Friday, means Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power can build and operate 321 miles of 500-kilovolt transmission lines on public land in Idaho’s Gooding, Elmore, Owyhee, Cassia and Twin Falls counties. The route avoids sage grouse habitat and private land, but crosses about 9 miles of conservation area for raptors. . . .
The Shelley City Council said it was strongly opposed to further wind turbine development in the hills. When Bingham County Planning and Zoning asked for comment on a proposed plan for up to 11 additional wind turbines east of Firth, Councilman Jeff Kelley had a strong negative response. “We’ll see them from our homes in our town. You want my comments? I think it’s a mistake. It’s stupidity,” he said. He suggested that the council pass a resolution opposing wind . . .
Rancher John Faulkner of Gooding has a grand vision to combine three types of renewable energy into a huge project in Elmore County. But his neighbors are already raising concerns about wildlife, water and scenery. The Elmore County Planning and Zoning Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on five conditional use permits the developers will need, along with a long list of federal and state approvals. The proposed Cat Creek Energy pump-storage hydroelectric project would be located on Anderson Ranch . . .
SALT LAKE CITY – The wind didn’t howl quite as fiercely in 2015 in Utah and eight other states across the West, leading to the nation’s smallest increase in wind generated power in 16 years. A recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration said weather patterns in the western portion of the United States created only a 5.1 percent increase in wind generated power over 2014. By comparison, electricity from wind generation grew by nearly 20 percent in 2013 and . . .
In the first major decision to follow new guidance on avoiding development in conservation areas, the Bureau of Land Management has proposed routing the final two stages of a Wyoming-to-Idaho power line outside of a federal raptor sanctuary. Doing so would protect key habitat and wildlife, the agency said. But Idaho leaders and other critics say BLM’s proposal sacrifices greater sage grouse habitat and private property to avoid crossing the sanctuary – and ignores the recommendation of the agency’s own advisory . . .
While the flurry of wind farm creation that occurred across the Pacific Northwest for the better part of the last decade has subsided, proponents of wind energy say it’s still important for utility companies and other energy experts to keep finding ways to more effectively harness the wind. “Things have fallen a little steady across the Pacific Northwest as it relates to wind energy,” says Cliff W. Gilmore, communications director for Portland-based Renewable Northwest, an agency that advocates renewable energy . . .
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have requirements that utilities get a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nine additional states have goals for renewable energy, while a dozen others have no targets. A state-by-state look at renewable energy policies. ALABAMA No renewable energy standard. ALASKA A bill passed in 2010 sets a goal, but not a requirement, for Alaska to receive half its electricity from renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025. ARIZONA Public utilities must . . .
BOISE – An organization representing Idaho well irrigators considers a recent order allowing power companies to shorten contract lengths with certain renewable energy providers good news for rate payers. Opponents of the new policy, however, fear it will quash future renewable energy development in Idaho. Under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, utilities must purchase any qualifying renewable power. States set contract lengths and determine how to calculate avoided costs – payments for renewable energy based on what utilities would have . . .