CleanTechnica correspondent Tina Casey has just posted an article about the decline of the coal industry in Illinois. Her article is timely. Idaho Power, which serves over 500,000 customers, announced this week that it will stop using coal to generate electricity and transition to 100% zero emissions sources by 2045.
The utility currently is part owner of three coal generating facilities — the Boardman plant in Oregon, the North Valmy plant in Nevada, and the Jim Bridger plant in Wyoming. It says it will stop getting electricity from the first two by 2025 and is negotiating with its partners in the Wyoming facility to end its involvement there. It will look to solar and wind resources to replace the electricity it now gets from coal.
Darrel Anderson, CEO of Idaho Power, tells NPR news affiliate Boise Public Radio, “We believe this goal is attainable.” He adds that customers in Idaho increasingly expect their electrical provides to supply them with electricity from clean sources.
Idaho is blessed with abundant hydroelectric power thanks to the Snake River. Idaho Power has 17 hydro installations along the river, which supply about half of its electricity. At present, coal accounts for about 20% of its power. It also operates 3 generating facilities powered by natural gas. As part of its transition to zero emissions power, it is negotiating for 120 MW of electricity from a proposed solar power plant located south of Twin Falls, Idaho.
The plan is popular with conservationists in Idaho. Ben Otto of the Idaho Conservation League said in a statement, “We’re enthusiastic about it and eager to continue to assist the utility on how to achieve this goal. We’re hopeful this means they’ll work on developing renewable sources of energy built in Idaho by and for Idahoans. That way, Idaho’s economy, businesses, workers and families benefit, and we can wean ourselves of a dependence on out-of-state sources of energy.”
He later told the Idaho Press, “Climate change and clean energy shouldn’t be a political issue.” Speaking of the company officials who made the decision to follow a zero emissions strategy for the future, he said, “They’re following the dollars; they’re following the science.”
And The Beat Goes On
Idaho Power is the latest company to join the zero emissions trend started by Xcel Energy in Colorado and Minnesota. Indiana is also part of the clean energy revolution as utility companies begin to realize renewables are now cheaper than conventional electrical generation strategies.
Perhaps it is regrettable that saving the Earth is not enough of an incentive by itself to get businesses to do the right thing, but if economic considerations are what it takes to avoid a global meltdown, “Bring it on!’ in the immortal words of George W. Bush.