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Unsocial Network: Idaho Power Vs. Snake River Alliance

SRA: “Our members are your ratepayers."

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Idaho Power alleges Idaho environmental activists Snake River Alliance have a "wind at any cost" agenda, leading to the SRA being uninvited to future meetings of IDACORP's Integrated Resource Planning panel.

"Even if Idaho Power shared SRA's agenda (and it decidedly does not), a 'wind (or even other renewables) at any cost' generation portfolio is economically unreasonable, regulatorily unsupportable and operationally unfeasible," wrote Dan Minor, Idaho Power vice president and chief operating officer in a letter to SRA executive director Liz Woodruff.

Minor's comments were part of a series of exchanges, made public on Idaho Power's blog, in which Minor and Woodruff engaged in a virtual face-off.

Minor dubbed SRA's agenda "irresponsible," and said that providing consistent power and eliminating coal from the company's production facilities would be impossible.

"Erratic resources such as wind and solar generation are available only when Mother Nature deems them available--when the wind blows or the sun shines," said Minor.

"Our members are, in fact, your ratepayers," responded Woodruff.

In particular, the SRA lambasted Idaho Power for its use of coal-fired facilities, but Minor said Woodruff and her colleagues' "street theater" outside Idaho Power Headquarters on May 17 went too far.

Minor was referring to the SRA's "careholders" meeting that was meant to mimic the real shareholders meeting conducted inside the building at Boise's 13th and Main streets.

Because of what Idaho Power considered to be the antics of the outside demonstration, utility officials chose not to include Ken Miller, SRA's clean energy program director, on Idaho Power's Integrated Resource Planning panel, which began its first of monthly meetings on Aug. 16. Miller had served on the panel--which also includes elected officials and public utility commissioners--in years prior.

"We were told that we had crossed a line," Woodruff told Boise Weekly. "That our place for criticism was [at the panel] and not by mocking their CEO."

The demonstration, said Miller, was not unlike activism in other cities.

"This was nothing compared to what you see outside other utilities," said Miller. "But it was a first for Idaho Power."

Should SRA and Idaho Power relations improve, Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin told BW an SRA representative might return to the panel but not within the next two years.

"We thought [SRA's tactics] were not constructive and undermined the purpose of the IRP process," said Bowlin.

Woodruff and Minor's exchange began shortly after the May protest. Woodruff said he asked for a meeting between SRA and Idaho Power leadership. Minor's three-page response defended his company's carbon footprint.

"Simply put, SRA's agenda represents the view of an extremely small number of Idaho Power's customers," wrote Minor.

Idaho Power's parent company, IdaCorp, has taken a stance against federally imposed requirements to purchase a percentage of renewable energy alternatives from wind and/or solar operations.

Meanwhile, Bowlin said SRA representatives are still allowed to attend the IRP meetings, which are open to the public, but not have a voice on the panel.

"Our role is not only to sit quietly at the table with our hands crossed," said Woodruff. "Our goal is also to raise public awareness of these issues."

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