by Andrew Crisp
UPDATE: 12:30 P.M.
Idaho Power confirmed to Citydesk that while Snake River Alliance representative Ken Miller was not invited to be a member of the Integrated Resource Planning panel due to the SRA's involvement in a so-called "careholders" meeting, the SRA would be able to attend future meetings.
"There was a decision made earlier due to some of the tactics that the Snake River Alliance had engaged in—and trying to shape the debate over how electricity is going to be provided in the future—we thought was not constructive and undermined the purpose of the IRP process," said Idaho Power communications representative Brad Bowlin. "They haven’t been excluded from the meetings; they’re public meetings."
ORIGINAL POST 11:25 a.m.
"Lose the coal," urged members of the Snake River Alliance outside the Public Utilities Commission building at Fifth and Washington streets today. Idaho Power's energy production should include more renewable resources, said a group of SRA members.
"Dirty coal-fired power generates, on average, nearly half of the state's electricity," said SRA Executive Director Liz Woodruff.
The self-described clean energy group wants the Idaho utility to integrate more renewable resources, such as wind and solar, into its operations. Coal plant emissions are bad for human health and the environment, and are costly to maintain, they said.
Miller and the SRA also debuted a new study titled "Kicking Idaho's Coal Habit: Charting a Cleaner Energy Future." Miller, the author of the study, said replacing the 1,500 megawatts currently produced by coal plants would require only 700 megawatts worth of renewable sources because of their efficiencies.
"Idaho Power remains perplexed about integration issues," said Woodruff. "Because it doesn't own the resource. It doesn't make it as compelling for then to figure out how to integrate wind."
But while a regular meeting takes place down the street at Idaho Power headquarters on Main Street, the SRA will no longer be able to voice that concern, they said, to the Integrated Resource Planning panel, charged with evaluating Idaho Power's current power-generating portfolio. Miller was removed from that panel following a political rally, said Woodruff.
"We were told that we had crossed a line," she said.
Idaho Power told them a so-called "careholders" meeting on May 17, which took place outside Idaho Power headquarters during the company's annual shareholders meeting, was the reason for Miller's removal, said Woodruff.
"Any utility that burns coal to any degree sees protests. This was nothing compared to what you see outside other utilities in other states," said Miller. "But it was a first for Idaho Power."
Idaho Power's parent company, IdaCorp, has joined Avista Corp. and Rocky Mountain Power to call for a limitation of future wind power projects in the Gem State. Wind developers said that campaign was scaring customers.