Should Idaho become "famous green power" state?

Led by Gov. Butch Otter, Idaho government and business leaders are embracing renewable energy sources and conservation as a critical part of Idaho’s energy future. The Idaho Legislature is already on record calling for the state to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable and conservation by 2025, Idaho Power is aggressively pushing conservation and wind energy development.

Lawmakers this session approved an energy efficiency bill for state buildings. Simplot Co. has embraced conservation as a way to improve its bottom line.

Farmers are increasingly looking to biofuels not only as a market for their grains but also as a homegrown fuel for their trucks and tractors that reduces our investments in Middle East and Latin American countries that don't like us.

In addition to nuclear power, the Idaho National Laboratory is working on conservation and renewable research. Finally, two companies are building plants in Pocatello for components of solar and wind power generation.

Is it time for Idaho to consider rebranding itself around green energy?

John Deere, long known for its tractors and farm implements, has gotten into the wind generation industry. It is selling wind energy it produces in Texas to business furniture giant Steelcase, which plans to pay a premium to have the plant named after the son of its founder and to promote its reliance on green energy, the New York Times reported .

Historically, the state depended on hydroelectricity for most of its power and still gets a big chunk of its power from the global warming friendly source. You couldn’t buy a coal-fired plant right now on Wall Street if you wanted one so the state’s choices are smaller in the short term.

Idaho Power and the other utilities that serve the state either will help residents and businesses use less power, invest in wind , geothermal or even perhaps solar power, or they will build more natural gas plants. In the long term nuclear power is an option as well as coal stripped of its carbon dioxide emissions.

Even these larger sources, built and marketed right, could add to Idaho’s next reputation as America’s Green energy state.

The biggest drawback is that many people in Idaho, mostly older people tied to traditional industries don't want to have anything to do with anything environmental.

Environmentalists, to them are the "wackos" that killed the timber industry, attack mining and are putting farmers out of business. But as time goes on and they grow older, the next generation, liberals, moderates and conservatives are replacing their anti-environmental views.

Steelcase and other businesses recognize that environmental sustainability is increasingly attractive to Americans, who are catching up with Europe and other places. Idaho could make itself more attractive to the creative people and businesses who care about and develop green energy if it touts its current green energy industry and helps grow it.

How about “famous power” to go with “famous potatoes?”

How about stuff that actually employs Idahoans?

All marketing, no substance

Yes, there have been some moves in the direction of efficiency and renewables the last few years, but nothing to brag about. If you want the state to be recognized for our green energy credentials, we have an awful lot of catching up to do.

Compared to the surrounding states, we barely match up, whether you're looking at renewables (non-hydro) or efficiency. And that is just the surrounding states. Washington and Oregon have been kicking our butts for decades now, and Nevada is coming on strong. Nationally, we don't even register.

Using Simplot (or other businesses) as a badge is pretty silly. Conservation and efficiency in general have been cost effective for years, but that hasn't prevented most businesses from pissing away their money. Simplot is simply getting a better bang for their buck, not doing something really exemplary.

Why don't we just be famous for being nice and not screwing up?