Alternative Energy

Aaron Hockley / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho gets almost half of its electricity from coal-fired plants in nearby states. But where the coal is burned doesn’t change things for Kelsey Nunez. She’s the executive director of the Snake River Alliance and says Idaho’s dependence on the carbon-emitting source needs to end.

Stephen Mellentine / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama’s new EPA rule seeking drastic reductions in carbon emissions could create more room in the industry for cleaner forms of energy. One of those is geothermal. In eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho, a new study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) will look closer at this potential source, and its connection to the drought-stricken West.

Wendy / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from an environmental think tank ranks Idaho among the states with a low ecological footprint. The study from the Global Footprint Network ranked states against one other on a number of green measures. Idaho received the top ranking for electricity generated from renewable energy. Washington and Oregon come in second and third, respectively.

A close look shows the renewable source that earned Idaho its high ranking is hydropower, with wind and biomass taking up smaller shares.

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho is one step closer to being a leader in geothermal energy. The Department of Energy (DOE) announced five states that will have the chance to compete for the opportunity to build a geothermal research lab, including Oregon and Nevada. In this first research phase out of three, Idaho will split $2 million with the four other states.

Bookhaven National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons

The company that provides most of southern Idaho with its electricity is ready to incorporate solar power into its portfolio for the first time. Idaho Power's foray into solar will be relatively small.

Currently about half of Idaho Power’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams. A little more than a third comes from coal-burning power plants in neighboring states. There’s some natural gas, and about 7 percent comes from privately-generated, renewable sources, mostly wind. None of it, though, is solar. 

solar panel, energy
Flickr Creative Commons

An alternative energy company has applied for a 50-year state lease to build a $2 million, 50-acre solar project in central Idaho.

Ketchum-based Sagebrush Solar wants to install about 3,600 solar panels on six acres in Ohio Gulch north of Hailey.

The company says the project would produce about 1.1 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 160 homes.

Sagebrush Solar owner Billy Mann tells the Idaho Mountain Express that the company has completed 60 smaller solar projects in the Wood River Valley.

Northwest farmers are trying to get into the business of biofuels.

Portable Wind Turbines Bring Renewable Energy To Cities

May 16, 2013
Powersails

Tall, noisy wind turbines may not go over well in some urban areas. A northwest company has developed residential-sized turbines to push renewable energy to cities. The portable turbines could also generate power during disasters.

During southern California’s hot summers, people ramp up air conditioners and use more power than normal. That forces utilities to conserve energy and shut off power at specific times and places.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

The U.S Energy Information Administration studied the amount of carbon dioxide that was pumped into the atmosphere between 2000-2010. Idaho contributes a low amount, respectively, compared to other states. Only California, Vermont, New York and Washington D.C. have smaller carbon footprints per capita.

But Ben Otto at the Idaho Conservation League says this report doesn’t show the full picture.

  RICHLAND, Wash. – News out of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can sometimes sound like just one critical report after another. In fact, last week a federal watchdog agency said Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant is in jeopardy. Several developments lately have intensified the debate over this question: Should a massive federal waste treatment plant move ahead or stop to fix its nagging technical problems?


GLENEDEN BEACH, Ore. - It goes without saying that the Pacific Ocean is vast. So it may come as a surprise to hear the sea described as "crowded." Perhaps even too crowded to make room for the nascent industry of wave and tidal energy.  Taxpayers and investors have pumped tens of millions of dollars into finding ways to turn the ocean's power into electricity.  In recent weeks, high stakes negotiations to identify wave energy sites on the Oregon Coast are finally getting somewhere.

Department of Energy

The Northwest's second geothermal power plant has entered service. A Boise-based company called U.S. Geothermal built the project at Neal Hot Springs, near the small town of Vale in eastern Oregon.

The company's CEO Daniel Kunz says a good renewable energy resource and nearby transmission lines made Neal Hot Springs attractive for geothermal power generation.

NW Residents Willingness To Pay For Renewable

Apr 10, 2012
Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

Northwest residents say they want more clean energy and less of their electricity from fossil fuels.

Renewable energy has been praised for its ability to provide power without releasing carbon emissions into the air. Wind, solar, biomass and geothermal are currently in use in the Northwest. But so is coal, natural gas and nuclear.

“I’m concerned about what we’re leaving for our future generations," says Boise resident Alex Feldman. "And I guess I don’t want to go down in history as the generation that sort of screwed it up.”

Report: Geothermal Industry Is Expanding

Apr 5, 2012

A new report says the geothermal industry is steadily growing. Projects are planned throughout the Northwest.

Although renewable energy development faces uncertainties with production tax credit extensions, the Geothermal Energy Association says its industry is expanding. A new report found about 150 projects in the works in the western United States.

Karl Gawell  is the association’s executive director. He says several projects are opening up new areas for geothermal development. Washington is one. Gawell says finding new resources can sometimes be tricky.