February 11, 2019 Read More →

Idaho Power executive says company on ‘glide path away from coal’

Idaho Press:

Idaho Power’s energy profile has gotten cleaner and more renewable-based over the past 10 years, a shift rooted in a mix of legal requirements and economic factors. Idaho Power’s use of coal has declined considerably over the past decade. In 2008, 46.1 percent of Idaho Power’s energy came from coal. In 2017, the most recent numbers available, coal is down to 18.3 percent.

“A lot of it has to do with economics, natural gas prices where they are today compared to where they were, say, 10 years ago,” said Mitch Colburn, Idaho Power’s director of resource planning and operations.

The “glide path away from coal,” as Colburn described it, is a mix of renewable sources and natural gas.

Idaho Power has an ownership stake in and generates energy from three coal plants. It makes up 50 percent of coal operations at Valmy in Nevada, 10 percent of operations at a coal plant in Boardman, Oregon, and 33 percent of operations at Jim Bridger Coal Plant in Wyoming, Colburn said. Idaho Power has penned an agreement to stop operations in the coming years in Boardman, and it plans to phase out operations at Valmy and Jim Bridger, too, Colburn said.

Idaho Power has gone from natural gas making up 3.8 percent of its yearly load in 2008, to 8.4 percent of its load in 2017. Its use of natural gas in the last 10 years peaked in 2015, when it made up 14.3 percent of its load.

Renewables such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy are footing a considerably larger part of the load now, too. Idaho Power’s supply was only 2.7 percent renewables — not including its hydropower operations — in 2008. In 2017, the renewable energy supply made up for roughly 23.8 percent of the yearly load.

More: Idaho Power’s energy profile has gotten cleaner, but use of renewable energy proves a constant balancing act

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