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.
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