Letters from the West

Power council holds hearing in Boise Thursday

The Pacific Northwest has an unprecedented surplus of electric power that is expected to continue long into the future.

So the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, an eight-member panel appointed by the governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana, says in its draft power plan to keep doing what works. The panel, which plans for public power utilities across the region including the Bonneville Power Administration, says increased energy efficiency and demand response – programs or contracts to reduce power use during periods of peak demand are the cheapest power source right now, a conclusion Idaho Power also shares.

Combined those with the increased use of existing natural gas-fired power plants to offset retiring coal-fired power plants offers the Northwest the lowest-cost, lowest-carbon energy future, according to the Council’s Draft Seventh Northwest Power Plan. In fact, if the energy efficiency targets in the draft plan are met and demand-response resources are developed, there is a low probability that new power plants will be needed for at least the next five years, except possibly in areas where demand for electricity grows rapidly.

Even if you get your power from Idaho Power you should care because the decisions they make may lead to decisions about the eight dams between Idaho and the Pacific that add to the challenge of our salmon to migrate.

The Council will hold a hearing on the plan at the Downtowner Red Lion from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker