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!
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