Idaho Power, its customers and shareholders caught in a changing world

Idaho Power Co. is caught in the transformation from the hydro and coal era to the climate change era.

The result is the regulated utility that has long sought to control risk is trying to managing uncertainty in a changing world where its customers, regulators and the state political establishment retain expectations from its era of cheap power. How well it manages these changes will decide how Idaho is positioned for a revolution in electric power generation, delivery and use.

Idaho Renewable Energy Enterprise zones no longer just "Cow pie power"

Butch Otter's Energy Czar Paul Kjellander wants to encourage alternative energy and economic development in Idaho but he doesn’t want to do it on the backs of the state’s electric ratepayers.

That’s why he is pushing a bill to create Idaho Renewable Energy Enterprise Zones. Inside these zones the state will offer a series of incentives for developers, local governments and others to build alternative energy projects.

Former Bush official says Obama resource picks "so far so good."

The Idaho Environmental Forum had its annual legislative update session Wednesday but it’s main speaker was former Interior solicitor and assistant attorney general Tom Sansonetti, from Wyoming.

He said the first big job Interior Secretary Ken Salazar faces is wading through the 7,135 court cases that are pending. He will find it, Sansonetti said its not easy negotiating with your own friends and supporters.

“Keep an eye on the environmental settlements over the next 12 months,” he said.

Risch asks Gore how long we have as a species

Jim Risch, meet Al Gore.

To right wing climate change skeptics he’s Algore, Rush Limbaugh’s answer to Alvin the Chipmunk. To the world he is the Nobel Laureate. To the Washington Post’s Dana Milbanks., he’s the Goracle.

Gore testified Wednesday to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Idaho freshman Sen. Risch is a member. Milbanks reported on their exchange:

How does wolf decision fit into climate change choices?

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his staff are currently reviewing whether to allow the Bush Administration’s plan to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah.

Interior officials said last week that Salazar will rely on guidance presented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Agency biologists have forwarded briefing papers that evaluate the options the Obama administration has, said Ed Bangs, the agency’s wolf recovery coordinator in Helena, Mont. said.

Hayes gets number two post at Interior.

David Hayes, the former deputy Interior secretary under Bruce Babbitt will get his old job back American Rivers said Monday.

He will serve as the top assistant to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Hayes was in charge of the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior, Energy, and Agriculture. He also is vice chairman of the Board of American Rivers.

Obama signs order protecting states' rights to protect environment

Idaho’s overall governing philosophy and its environmental regulation philosophy have long clashed with little angst.

Overall, Idaho Republicans have organized around the primacy of states' rights, a shared embrace of the 10th Amendment, that all powers not delegated to the federal government or prohibited from the states are; "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Yet, at least since the 1980s, when applied to environmental law, a higher value raised was the so-called stringency clause.

Kempthorne for President? The Atlantic suggests he's considering a run

Dirk Kempthorne for President? A few years ago Coeur d’Alene businessman Jerry Jaeger was promoting Kempthorne for Vice President. But now blogger Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic is saying Kempthorne is testing the waters about a possible run in 2012. He has never said that to me and in recent talks with his associates no one made any suggestions that he was looking at it. But now he has left Interior and the last time we talked he said he was going somewhere warm.

Crapo, Risch, western Democrats urge stimulus spending to thin forests

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined a bipartisan group of senators urging the stimulus package include $1.52 billion in funding to log and thin national forests to reduce the potential for huge fires.

The funding, which would be spent over two years, would go to the $2.75 billion worth of hazardous fuel reduction projects identified by the Forest Service. Sen. Ron Wyden, the principal author of the letter calling for the spending, said it would create 50,000 jobs.

Kempthorne late order speeds permits for wind and solar development

Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and the Bush administration got a lot of publicity for the last minute effort to open up sensitive lands to oil and gas leasing but that wasn’t all they were doing.

Just before Kempthorne and fellow Idahoan Jim Caswell, the former Bureau of Land Management director left town they issued an order that will allow the agency to accelerate permitting for wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy projects on what used to be called BLM lands but now are known as public lands.

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