City Government

Gas-Fired Power Plant Aborted, City Headed For Solar Deal

Like their unending efforts to get into the train business, Boise’s Team Dave is headed into a scheme with a private business using public land–this time for yet another electricity generating facility.

Back in January 2006 the GUARDIAN REPORTED on a below market lease subsidy deal for a gas-fired plant near Gowen Field. That plan fell apart because Idaho Power said they had no need for excess generating capacity. This time Boise City is touting a solar farm they claim would be capable of providing power for as many as 1,500 homes–but not at night!

The GUARDIAN is as green as the next guy, but we have been critical of Boise’s land speculation efforts for years. Each deal is announced to great fanfare, but when the deals collapse–as many do–there is little coverage. They brag of 20 jobs being created, but don’t mention the loss of 60 jobs at Val-U Stores (Albertson) the same day despite “face to face visits” from Mayor Bieter and others who had previously flown to Minneapolis to meet the CEO.

We find it problematic when the landlord (Boise) is also the regulator, taxman, banker, planning and zoning authority and legal counsel. These so called public-private partnerships can place the businesses and city against the best interests of citizens. We have also heard of wind farm being constructed just over the hill from the City land.

Next step will be increasing the population and creating a housing boom to sell all the electricity.

Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), Idaho Power has to purchase electricity generated by these small facilities. If the small generators get free land or low priced leases from the local government, taxpayers are on the hook and also stand to get rate hikes from Idaho power under certain circumstances.

Since Idaho Power is required to provide “peak load capacity” it is not always in their best interests to buy outside power.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.
Here is a statement from Idaho Power with regard to the project which was described by the Statesman as the “centerpiece of the mayor’s address to the Chamber of Commerce:”

Idaho Power supports renewable generation and economic development opportunities throughout our service territory. We are continuing diligent planning for the future energy needs of our customers, which includes maintaining a balanced portfolio of generation resources. As with all opportunities, solar resources must be evaluated against other available options on all fronts-including who will pay for the power generated-as part of deciding what’s best for our company, customers and shareowners.

We do not have a comment specific to the proposed Sunergy World project, as we understand it is in the preliminary stages.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Well now, Mayor Bieter must think the winter inversions are going to go away and the sun going down won’t be a problem.

    I have been by this solar plant at the intersection of Hwys 58 and 395 in California. Not very big by any standard of electrical generation. The production is not worth the investment. It was and is a demonstration project.

  2. They gonna put it by the same airport that is fogged in so often? This is a worse idea than the short-track train. The solar will put out about how much kw vs the NG plant?? 1% or so, but will cost the same or more? California did a bunch of stupid stuff like this years ago… they got no money now.

    Dave needs to look green for his core voters, many of whom are brain dammaged with this global warming lie. It don’t need to add up, just look green.

  3. When you trade green for green at a million to one, you got no green left… So just raise taxes!! And that my friends is how Dave and company think about you. Because he can, because more than half of the people think green grows on a tree.

  4. Any bets on whether this will happen? I checked the company’s web site and they mention no specific projects or clients other than this one for Boise.

  5. So why can’t Egg Bieter and his team use the electric power from the new solar project to power their new trolley.

  6. EMAN.. solar won’t work on a cold day in hell.. which is when the trolley will get built. 🙂

  7. So Bieter wants to take a piece of property that was a former landfill at the end of the airport runway that’s generating zero dollars and lease it to someone who would pay the city for using it. That’s stupid? And, of course, the company that wants to invest in new technology and make this its first project gets criticism from erico49 for doing so. (Undoubtedly Joe Albertson would have been run out of town for deciding to put his first store in Boise if the same mind thought process had existed then). Solar, by the way, still generates electricity on cloudy and even foggy days — just not to the degree it does when the sky is clear. Luckily, we have Idaho Power available to build additional dams and/or fossil fuel facilities to respond to future power needs should this proposal fail — and likely IPC will do so without asking rate payers to cover those costs. You betcha.

  8. I’m with you, Goobs. I see this as being a good thing. Let’s not forget that we already sell a bunch of our hydroelectric power out of state. Perhaps we could start shutting down some coal-fired plants and use energy that doesn’t belch hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

    It’s a win-win for me. I think in this instance, the Guardian is influenced by Bieter-dislike and is rubber-stamping this project as negative because of that dislike.

    EDITOR NOTE–No rubber stamp, just a cautionary note about city hooking up with businesses. No different than the city offering to lease a vacant lot to a car dealership. Could be a good deal or just fluff. We offer a different SLANT.

  9. I guess some of us haven’t connected the dots here. An admirable effort entered into between a city government that lies to the citizens daily, with a company (Petra) that has bankrupted untold subcontractors, and left vast parcels of development land vacant throughout the valley! At some point, someone better start the “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck” mantra! I refuse to believe we are really that stupid to let this happen.C’mon folks!!!

  10. The real question is what is the best use for this land. Does the proximity to the airport or being an old landfill limit other uses?

  11. Rod in SE Boise
    Jun 3, 2010, 11:29 am

    The last sentence of the Guardian’s post: “Since Idaho Power is required to provide “peak demand capacity” it is not always in their best interests to buy outside power.”

    My comment: Idaho Power is a public utility and should be operated in the best interest of the public (consumers), and not in the best interest of Idaho Power.

    If the city owns land it is not going to use, very soon, for city-owned facilities, like libraries or parks, that land should be sold. The city should not be in the land speculation business or any other business.

    And why do some of the commenters think that oil will last forever? Don’t they pay any attention to the news? Of course they don’t, they get their opinions from fact-deprived knuckleheads like Sarah “drill, baby, drill” Palin.

    The fact is – we ARE going to run out of oil and we need to be developing solar power, or our grandchildren will either starve or freeze.

    EDITOR NOTE–Our point with regard to costs/profits is that solar is apparently expensive to produce at this time and rate payers could be on the hook. There are incentives for Idaho Power from the Feds to use solar however.

  12. The transition to renewable sources should be well underway by now and I’m glad someone in this state is taking the lead. Yes we need many more incentives for solar and wind power cause the the upfront costs are heavy. But once in, its one less trip to the gas station. Continued reliance on foreign oil isn’t just short sighted and lazy its a national security risk.

    But more importantly on a local level we finally have a political leader taking the bull by the horns and providing direction where the state elected politicos continue to shrink Idaho’s economy instead of providing solutions for more hopeful tomorrow with green jobs and the prospect of a green economy. We lost a tremendous opportunity for more green jobs because of their short sightedness. The legislature should be implementing tax breaks for all individuals to get into the game.

    Hey Zippy, as I recall the Pope excommunicated Copernicus and threatened to kill him unless he recanted his heliocentric model of the universe. Your rant reminds me of that Papal bull. And instead of you lifting your knuckles off the ground to scratch your noggin’ with your mouth agape trying to figure out how to pronounce he-li-o-cen-tric, why don’t you take the next plane to the Gulf coast and report for clean up duty, drill-boy.

  13. Sis… I can’t help but think of that disease that sounds just like your handle… other than the personal attack on me, can you tell me where I’m factually wrong in my overly simplified description of the stupid and/or dishonest who’d like to think their pooh don’t stink? I’m bettn’ you live off one or more government checks and still watch CBS.

    I’d like to see a transition too, but we already know a solar farm this small and with this old technology is a gimmick… an expensive one too. Cali is tapped so they see what Dave will give em 1) we don’t need the power. 2) If we did, NG is very clean and come right down a pipe from Canada… no goofy people with towel on head, no dead sea-life involved at all.

  14. Hi, Goobs

    I don’t think I criticized the company… just pointed out that they were new. Joe, God rest his soul, didn’t have to deal with negotiating a lease with the city, the FAA, and likely DEQ. I wish them well, but let’s talk again in October and see if construction has started. And then again in fall 2011 to see if it’s functional.

  15. Please don’t tell me that anyone actually believes that this project will really happen! This is purely political posturing on the city’s part. If anyone believes that the state legislature will give a local option for taxation, they are in Wonderland! If, by the slimmest chance known to man, the legislature does give the authority, does anyone really belive the majority of the citizens will vote for it? Did ya’ll miss the fact that Bieter is hinging his costs on Ada AND Canyon counties authorizing this? These guys can’t even have lunch together without an argument. Now Bieter expects us to believe they will join in a common taxation effort? What a crock! It is really too bad because the need to explore all alternative sources of energy is needed. The guy espousing this would screw up a two car funeral! And that is the primary reason it won’t fly!

  16. Zippy, you must often look a fool without a mirror in the house. Personal attack? I believe these words are yours to describe people on this thread: “stupid” “dishonest” “brain dammaged” (sic). Perhaps you could reflect on the color of your pot before pointing at kettles. Your skills at prognostication notwithstanding, I’m self employed and watch no network TV. I reckon your opinions of anthropogenic climate change are equally well grounded.

    Cyclops, if I recall correctly, I believe you predicted that the electorate would hand Bieter his hat in a landslide every time he’s run. I’ll give your predictions on how’ll they’ll vote on this project all the credibility it has earned. But I do agree that if it fails, partisanship will likely be at the root of it.

  17. sam the sham
    Jun 4, 2010, 6:51 pm

    I knew that you would be digging into this, that the Statesman’s “news” was just an arrow pointing to the real reporting of The Guardian.

  18. Sis, Happy to be drawing your fire as I must be getting too near the truth. Is DB your client? Lots of money in the image management business.

    Boo! Nope, I’m still here… will be next week too… LOL!

  19. Sisyphus, you should know well that what one says publicly during a campaign is as much cheerleading as prediction. I belive that you would find that what I said was that this mayor should be run out of town due to complete incompetence on his part. Internally, two days before the election, I stated we would lose in a squeaker, or we would get our butts handed to us. Unfortunately, it was the latter. I take as much responsibility for that as anyone.
    To this day, I firmly believe that a different outcome of that race would have made this city a better place today.

  20. Zippo’s pot is brown, that’s why he’s so cranky.

    The election is long over Cyclops, better get over it or get campaigning. Sometimes the voice of the people says things you don’t want to hear. But don’t worry, maybe there’s a coalmine or cave development somewhere that you can champion. Now if we could just create energy from negativity we could light up the town from this site.

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