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Clean-Power Groups to Push for More Renewables in 2016

Clean-power groups are pushing for more renewables and full compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan in 2016. (xandert/morguefile)
Clean-power groups are pushing for more renewables and full compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan in 2016. (xandert/morguefile)
December 30, 2015

BOISE, Idaho - As 2016 draws near, clean-power groups are looking ahead to the work still to be done to implement new federal mandates and move toward more renewables.

By September, the state has to submit a plan to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan, which sets targets for reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Ken Miller, energy program director of the nonprofit Snake River Alliance, says concern about climate change will continue to force utilities across the intermountain West to turn a corner and move more toward solar, wind and geothermal energy.

"In the old days, the utilities would generate the power, sell it to the customers and the customers would pay their bills. Well, those days are effectively disappearing," says Miller. "Customers are generating some of their own power and they're actually speaking up and they want clean energy both in renewable energy and energy efficiency."

So far, the state of Idaho has not joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging the EPA's Clean Power Plan. In addition, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided just before Christmas to ratify Idaho Power's latest 20-year plan, which is the first ever to consider retiring a coal-fired power plant.

Miller hopes in 2016 the state will consider tax breaks to attract more utility-scale solar, and reject any efforts by Idaho Power to make rooftop solar more difficult or expensive.

"The friction between the utilities and those who want to install solar definitely has not subsided," he says. "And it probably will come back up again in this legislative session – and if not there, then in the Public Utilities Commission."

Miller says pressure from consumers and activists made a difference in 2015 helping convince the PUC to grant Rocky Mountain Power and Avista Utilities smaller rate increases than they had originally requested.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID