Most Idahoans are being worn down by the economic impact of inflation. Over the past two months, Idaho’s primary natural gas and power utilities, not to mention the local water company, are planning hefty raises that will harm ratepayers, particularly those living on fixed incomes.
Idaho Power recently requested an increase of 10.3%, or an extra $11.06 for the average residence. Intermountain Gas raised prices 16.6% last February and now seeks another type of increase on top of that, to the tune of 4.4%.
The best hedge against rising energy prices is renewable energy. A fuel that perpetually renews itself for free, such as wind, solar, and hydro, makes it immune to the pressures of inflation.
Growth, drought, aging infrastructure: Here’s why Idaho utility prices are rising
Major utilities will require alternative energy sources, like renewable energy, to meet the exponentially increasing demand. This includes Idaho Power, the largest provider of electricity in Idaho. Today, Idaho Power’s energy mix consists of more than 30% hydropower, 10% wind and less than 4% solar. One-third of its energy comes from natural gas and coal. The company has plans for major increases in its solar and wind capacity as it phases out fossil fuels to reach the company’s goal of relying on 100% clean energy by 2045.
Avista, Idaho Power and PacifiCorp — which operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Idaho — are all planning for increased clean energy demand as evidenced by recent requests for proposals.
So, where will this increased demand come from?
Misinformed opponents of clean energy have tried their best to derail clean energy projects like Lava Ridge, flooding the open public process where the BLM takes concerns into consideration and presents compromises. The system, which was designed to involve public opinion, was so overloaded that an extension was needed and officials are changing the process to be better equipped to handle large scale public outrage and vitriol in the future — a first for the Bureau of Land Management.
Even elected officials send mixed messages on clean energy. On one hand, the Governor’s Idaho Economic Landscape report for 2023 touts the economic potential of wind and solar, while on the other hand, the governor himself and nearly our entire federal delegation opposed what would be the one of the largest wind farms in the U.S. and bring much-needed tax revenue to three of Idaho’s poorest counties and school district. They stated their only reason for doing so is because angry people asked them to, saying ‘questions remain’ that had already been answered in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Lava Ridge.
It remains to be seen whether the clean energy demands will be produced in Idaho or purchased from another state. Several solar projects are in the works in the state as well, though not fully through the permitting process. And, more so, will clean energy developers continue to look to build projects in Idaho or will they turn to states that are friendlier to the growing clean energy market?
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