Idaho Power CEO predicts at least a year of worries : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Energy crisis likely to last Idaho Power CEO predicts at least a year of worries 06/16/01 Ken Dey

NAMPA — Idaho Power Co.’s president and CEO called on local leaders Friday to do their part to conserve energy and do what they can to help speed the construction of new power-generating sources. Jan Packwood told city leaders gathered for the Association of Idaho Cities conference in Nampa that the energy crisis facing the West will likely last for another year or more.

Conservation and new energy generation sources will be key to getting through the crisis, he said. “We’ll get through this fine, but it will take your help at the local level to get the infrastructure constructed,” Packwood said. To meet future demand for electricity, he said, 1,300 to 1,900 new power plants need to be built during the next 20 years. Most of those, he said, need to be traditional-style plants, such as the natural gas-fired plant being proposed for a site near Middleton. But environmental and planning concerns have been raised across the nation when new plants are proposed, including the one near Middleton. Although there has been a call for alternative methods of power production, Packwood said relying on those methods isn’t realistic. “The earth, the moon, the stars and the wind can’t meet our energy requirements,” he said. “The reality is that alternative forms of energy can only produce 2 percent of our energy needs today and 6 percent 20 years from now.” While the utility works to get more power plants on line, Packwood said the most important thing communities can do is conserve power. Since Idaho Power started its conservation programs last spring — including an irrigation buy-back program aimed at farmers — the utility has been able to cut its load by 15 percent, he said. “If there is enough conservation, it will lessen the possibility that the utility may have to request future rate increases to cover the costs incurred by purchasing power on the wholesale market at inflated prices,” Packwood said. Although Packwood acknowledged that customers have not welcomed the recent hike in electric rates, he acknowledged that the increases will probably lead to more conservation. “Price matters — if price goes up we’ll use it wisely,” Packwood said. “As painful as it is, prices are part of the solution.”

-- Martin Thompson (, July 06, 2001

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