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A Seat in the House

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Rate increase requests make a state energy policy even more important

The election is over and I hope I can be forgiven for a little personal reflection. I have talked to several people after the election and their general comment was: “It’s about time! This campaign has been so negative! I am just tired of hearing all the negative ads, especially those on the Presidential election!,” etc. etc. etc.

I think most of us share the same feeling. It seems like we have reached a new low in campaigning where the intent is to personally attack one’s opponent, instead of candidates discussing the issues and indicating where they stand on those issues.

Even in our district we saw efforts to discredit a candidate’s opponent as opposed to concentrating on the merits of the candidate. My own party’s actions generated criticism in at least one incident and even though the effort originated out of Boise and was unknown to the local candidate, it doesn’t make the activity any more acceptable. I will be emphasizing a more positive approach in future elections and will request that any effort on behalf of one of our candidates by our party be approved by that candidate before any action is taken. I believe many of us may have gotten tired of the phrase: “I am (candidate) and I approve this message;” however it may be an effective way to ensure that a candidate is aware of advertising on his or her behalf.

In any event, I would hope that all who may be discouraged with the activities leading up to this last election will not let this keep them from being involved in the election process in future years. This election brought out deep differences among all of us, but unlike any other process, our system of democracy allowed us to air our differences (and our emotions) in a positive and decisive manner through the balloting process. There are many who are disappointed in the results and some who are elated, but we all had the opportunity to express our opinion in the voting booth. Now it is time for us to put the election behind us and to move forward and work together for the good of all.

Moving to another area of interest: I participated in the Idaho Local Government Energy Committee’s annual energy conference held November 4 and 5.

Mr. Paul Kjellander, President of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission addressed the conference attendees and discussed several electric energy issues that I think need to be considered as the Idaho legislature moves forward on a state energy policy.

One issue of concern is the cost of electricity. Idaho Power earlier this year brought before the Utilities Commission a request for a rate increase of about 18 percent. The Commission reduced the requested increase down to about 5.2 percent, but it is expected that the company will submit another request within the next 16 months.

Avista, the utility that serves a portion of North Idaho, has requested an increase in their Idaho rates of about 2 percent and an increase in natural gas rates of about 6.4 percent.

Kjellander expressed a concern that we may be looking at more frequent rate increases by utilities as they become hesitant to rely on the market to provide their needs. Market conditions in the past have resulted in both price and supply uncertainty, and the utilities are looking toward additional generation resources to meet customer loads.

In addition, the re-licensing cost associated with the existing Idaho Power hydropower resources is becoming a concern. Several of the dams have to be re-licensed and the projected costs for environmental mitigation and other factors considered in re-licensing are ranging from a low of 350 million dollars to a high of 2.5 billion dollars. As the dollars get higher, the economic feasibility of the hydro projects become an issue. This means that the company’s hydro resource may diminish, further complicating their ability to meet customer loads.

As a result, Idaho Power is looking at other resources to meet their load growth, including not only conservation and renewable electric energy resources, but also natural gas and coal. Other utilities are in the same position.

This means that it is even more important for the Idaho legislature to move toward adoption of a state energy policy. Our interim committee on energy will be meeting November 15 to discuss at least four pieces of draft legislation providing tax incentives for renewable energy development. I will report on the decisions of the committee in a later article.

As always, feel free to contact me anytime. My home phone is 208-265-0123 and my home address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho, 83825.

Thanks for reading! George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

energy, Avista, electricity, Idaho Local Government Energy Committee, Idaho Power, Public Utilities Commission

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