Energy

Idaho Power, LaMont Keen
Courtesy of Idaho Power

Idaho Power Co. Chief Executive Officer J. LaMont Keen is retiring at year's end, to be replaced by the company's chief financial officer. Darrel Anderson will step in for Keen Dec. 31.

The state's largest utility made the announcement on Thursday. In a press release, the chairman of the board of directors of IDACORP and Idaho Power, Robert Tinstman, said the company is grateful to LaMont for his more than 39 years at Idaho Power. Keen has led the company since 2006.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Bureau of Land Management Tuesday approved most of a 990-mile-long power line that's being built on public land. But a section of the line, about 295 miles in Idaho, were deferred. That means the BLM will hold off on the OK for that area until stakeholders along the line’s route can come to a consensus.

The Gateway West project will run from Wyoming across southern Idaho. It's an effort between Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management signed off Tuesday on the route for a 990 mile long power line. But it's left two sections of the Gateway West Project, which will stretch from Wyoming across Southern Idaho, undecided.

Roy Luck / Flickr Creative Commons

The biggest railroad in the Northwest forcefully defended the safety of oil trains Wednesday.

It happened at a meeting in Seattle of environmental regulators from the West Coast. The context is the rapid rise in crude oil trains coming to the Northwest from North Dakota and this summer's deadly explosion in Quebec.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe hazmat expert Patrick Brady calls that train accident "an anomaly."

Imagine running power lines through a cathedral. That's how archaeologists describe what the Bonneville Power Administration proposes doing in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. The federal electricity provider is trying to string a new transmission line near a cave that contains ancient paintings, a site considered sacred by Native Americans.

Columbia River
Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Northwest history is colliding with the need to upgrade the region’s electric transmission grid. It’s happening on a windblown patch of riverfront property at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Bonneville Power Administration is trying to build a new transmission line across that land. But conflicts over historical preservation have increased the cost of the project to $185 million and stalled progress for more than a year.

The federal agency that watches over the nuclear power industry is taking a close look at the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington this week.

That’s because the plant had a problem with the cooling system for a room of important electrical equipment. It wasn’t properly maintained. Energy Northwest self-reported the issue to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC spokesman Victor Dricks says the public was never in any danger, because there were backup systems in place.  But he says it's still worth a closer look.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

At a Utah meeting this week, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter blasted President Barack Obama for seeking to limit coal-fired power plant emissions while not allowing sufficient timber cutting to tame big Western wildfires, another greenhouse gas source.

Otter told reporters Idaho wildfires send more carbon dioxide skyward than is released to produce coal-generated electricity used by the state's 1.5 million residents.

The governor's numbers may be technically correct.

Port of Vancouver USA

Oil refiner Tesoro and a terminal operating company named Savage detailed plans Thursday for the biggest crude oil shipping terminal to be proposed in the Northwest. It would be located on the Columbia River at the Port of Vancouver, Washington.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The homes of the future will come with remarkably low heating bills. At least that's the hope of a Portland-based non-profit showcasing 13 super energy efficient homes in four Northwest states. The question is, can you afford to buy one of these houses?

The model homes are scattered among many of the big cities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The houses don't look unusual from the outside. But all have been designed to use at least 30 percent less energy.

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.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

You may have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. So far this year, the region’s wind industry has faced a different story. 

Not a single new wind farms is under construction in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been that way since 2013 began. Compare that to last year’s boom, which increased wind capacity in the region by about 20 percent.

PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's photostream / Flickr

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in a letter Friday he will step down from his position at the end of this month. 

In his time as U.S. Energy Secretary, Chu pushed for growth in renewable energy and clean tech innovation.

Chu led the department during President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. The department divvied up about $3.5 billion in the Pacific Northwest.

Much of the money went to projects that helped develop energy efficiency and smart grid technologies.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Northwest power utilities have been pushing for energy conservation. It’s a way they can keep up with their customers' future demand for electricity. There are plenty of incentives if you buy an energy efficient appliance. But these days, utilities are finding more inventive ways to promote awareness.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Idaho Power must honor its obligation to purchase energy from wind farms. But it stopped short of taking enforceable action while the Idaho Public Utilities Commission decides how to rule on the case.

Gene Fadness is a spokesman with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. “This order comes even before we’ve made a decision," explains Fadness. "The wind developers wanted something before a commission order hoping that that would perhaps sway the commission in their deliberations.”

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