Idaho Power’s “Zombie Energy Plan” Survives Scrutiny

By on Thursday, April 29th, 2021 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

EASTERN OREGON – (Information provided by Stop B2H Coalition)  The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC) acknowledged Idaho Power’s energy plan telling the company they have to do better in 2021. On April 15, the OPUC roundly criticized Idaho Power’s “Second Amended 2019” IRP (Integrated Resource Plan.) OPUC Commissioner Letha Tawney called-out Idaho Power’s zombie work on two occasions saying, “It’s disappointing that we have this sort of zombie action items. So I will say I expect better from the next IRP.” 

Zombie actions included Idaho Power failing to uniform the OPUC commissioners that the company might not be exiting two Wyoming coal units in 2022 and 2026 as previously claimed. The loss of these energy sources had been promoted as the basis for Idaho Power’s projected energy shortfall in 2026, the rationale for constructing a 300 mile 500 kV transmission line from Boardman, Oregon to Hemingway, Idaho (B2H).  

Another piece of zombie work involves Idaho Power’s “2020 Variable Energy Resource (VER) Integration Study,” an analysis of how to integrate renewable energy into the Idaho Power system. It was never completed. “Idaho Power’s goal for 100-percent clean energy by 2045 is mostly smoke and mirrors,” said Jim Kreider, STOP B2H Coalition’s co-coordinator. “They are doing everything they can to make building renewable energy in Idaho look more expensive than building the B2H transmission line.” 

Commissioners criticized Idaho Power’s energy sales and load forecasts for being inflated and suggested better mathematical modeling techniques. They also noted Idaho Power had exaggerated the cost of Demand Response programs by more than 100%, even though these energy conservation programs are identified by the NW Power and Conservation Council as among the least expensive, most efficient means to decrease the looming energy shortfall in the region. Idaho Power also continued to exaggerate the cost of wind power and failed to follow major utilities lead by coupling wind and solar sources with battery storage to enhance reliability. 

Commissioners also raised doubts about the projected costs of the line, especially since Idaho Power’s two partners, PacifiCorp (54%) and the BPA (24%) have shown less interest in continuing to support it.  All of these zombie items will be carefully analyzed in the review of the 2021 IRP due in December. 

Idaho Power’s B2H “would effectively destroy sensitive wildlife habitats, and the livelihoods and cultural heritage of thousands of Oregonians, while taking our land and renewable energy to address a fabricated energy shortfall” according to Lois Barry, Stop B2H board member. “It’s clear that Idaho Power is creating and manipulating data to support their notion that they have to build a new 300 mile transmission line across Oregon to provide Idaho with inexpensive renewable energy that the taxpayers  of Oregon and Washington have subsidized, while Idaho has shown little interest in energy conservation  or developing renewable energy sources.” said Barry.