Sunshine On Wind, Solar Finances, Politics

For folks investing in those mandatory “PURPA” electricity generating projects, their plans could face a short circuit, thanks to recent developments in science, business, and politics.

The most important issue for Idaho consumers is a report from Idaho Power Company telling the GUARDIAN they are approaching enough wind generating capacity to meet their minimum daily demand for electricity. That considers existing projects, those under development, and pending agreements.

Of course the wind doesn’t always blow and the cost of buying from outsiders is high. The law was aimed at little guys with windmills, not mega corps that have a built-in market. Projects are limited to 10 megawatts, but the big guys just spin off their capacity into multiple smaller companies.

The utility is careful to say they will abide by the current law requiring them to purchase power from independent generators, but they are also working hard at lowering the rate–drastically–for the power they buy from vendors. They have a pending rate case before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

Then there is the Chinese influence.

A new agreement as a result of Chinese President Hu’s state visit includes potential financial support for Hoku, which is building a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Pocatello. The plant is expected to eventually create 500 jobs in the United States and will ship its polysilicon to China.

Tianwei–the parent company–has already invested $270 million in Hoku’s plant. That may be good news for Pocatello, but at the same time this is happening, solar companies in China are selling so many panels at low prices that American manufacturers are having a hard time competing. In the Treasure Valley Transform Solar, the start-up formed by Micron Technology and Origin Energy of Australia has yet to go into production.

Don’t look for any solar panels covering parking spots at the Boise Airport soon. Especially when the Chineses are seeking to have a worker village and industrial research park covering 30,000 acres south of the airport…those plans were not mentioned during the recent constitutional amendment campaign.

There is potential poetic justice. If Boise sells bonds for an “airport project” that will favor the Chines Communist firms, the bond investors will supposedly be left holding the bag. And the major investors in U.S. debt these days is CHINA!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 22, 2011, 11:08 am

    If we could make it be windy at night and sunny during the day, maybe Idaho Power wouldn’t have to build a gas-fired generating plant. It’s all about balance.

  2. I don’t care if North Korea is building a plant out there. It means jobs for Boiseans. Besides, when the “poop” hits the fan, we can just “nationalize” it! (Can states do that??) No one should be surprised that this came AFTER the bond issue last November! It is SOP for the mayor in this town!

  3. My electrical usage does not deviate on a annual comparison very much when compared to the same month last year when I review my Idaho Pwr Bill.

    Wind and solar vary with ambient conditions day to day. Until we figure out how to store electrical power wind and solar are an expensve novelty.

    I am very thankful that power outages here are minimal and I do not have to have a generator on standby like folks on the east coast states have in addition to the monthly electrical bills.

  4. Always remember when you pay your Idaho Power electric bill, you are paying for some of the cheapest power on the planet. Want nuclear power? Check and see what those folks get to pay per kilowatt. When the nuke plant life is over, about 30 years, tax payers get a giant expensive mess to clean up.
    Too bad wind and solar aren’t a novelty, only for those stuck in a cold war era and mentality.

  5. dog, you are correct, but once these clowns with the carbon tax get their way that rate will go bonkers and then we will have to wait ten more years before they get a nuke online. The French use mostly nuke… the nuke we invented. Nuke cost so much because of holywood fools and their lawyers causing masive red tape. Good news, as our indusry is shipped away at a rate of 100 manufacturing plants per week, (or something really crazy like that number) our demand should begin falling again.

  6. Sorry Zip, don’t buy the Fox news bites. American manufacturing is eroding because labor is cheaper in Asia and they can pollute all they want. American laws make it easy and profitable to outsource overseas. I remember Reagun extoling the virtues of outsourcing manufacturing in a speech. Germany has environmental regulations far more resrtictive than the US. They are a manufacturing powerhouse. They have unions. And …healthcare. Germany still make shoes! They like to make stuff. Americans like to buy stuff.

  7. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 25, 2011, 10:18 pm

    Why has it not occurred to anyone but me to ask why didn’t Idaho Power jump out ahead of all these other guys and develop big time solar and wind projects themselves?

  8. Don’t have a TV dog. I read alot. We agree on most points. It is about 100 per week closing. Our demand for electric will fall… but the price will rise anyway. A middle class German owns a pair of those shoes, maybe a car, and they rent. They buy a permit to walk their dog. Careful when you compair to also compair the lifestyle. A German Dr. friend has moved here so he can earn what he is worth. US Dr. that get sued a lot for bad work move to other countries that speak english and don’t get sued so much.

  9. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 26, 2011, 10:06 pm

    Zippo, if a doctor does bad work he deserves to get sued. And if the Republicans enact tort reform and I can’t sue a doctor, I will sue the Republicans.

  10. Read more carefully Rod.

  11. Rod, IdaCorp would rather buy the power and re-sell it without the capital investment. Problem is they don’t like to pay for it. They have spent millions on energy conservation in private and public facilities. Brilliant idea. One time investment, tax deductable, instantly puts power on line they can sell at higher rates especially if it is residential power. (not too much demand for that now)…and no future expenditures on the initial investment.
    Conservation puts power on the grid fasterand cheaper than any other power generating capital investment.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: