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Continued Work on Energy Issues

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A Seat in the House

In my last article I stated that the interim committee on Environment, Energy and Technology would finish its work on revising the Idaho Energy Plan following the end of the comment period on November 4. However, the committee had a request on November 3 to extend the comment period until November 18. The committee agreed to the extension and at the same time scheduled a meeting of the committee for November 21 to review all the comments received and to agree on the final revisions to the plan for submittal to the upcoming legislature for approval. The following is a summary of action taken by the committee on major provisions of the policy. 

A significant issue debated by the committee members was the treatment of conservation as a resource. The Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance final recommendation stated “all Idaho utilities should fully incorporate cost-effective conservation, energy efficiency and demand response as priority resources in their Integrated Resource Planning.” The current energy plan as well as the ISEA’s original recommendation stated that these resources should be identified as “the priority” resources.

Several members of the committee felt that taking out the word “the” diminished the role of conservation, efficiency and demand response as the first priority and reduced the intent of the energy policy. The committee agreed on a 7 to 6 vote to keep cost-effective conservation, efficiency and demand response as “the first priority resources” in meeting utilities’ resource needs.

The current state energy plan emphasizes the use of tax incentives as a means of encouraging investment in energy conservation and renewable resources. The ISEA recommendation eliminated tax incentives as a specific means of encouraging investment in these resources and replaced this terminology by stating “Idaho should encourage investments” in these resources without specifying particular ways of encouraging investment such as the use of tax incentives. The committee eliminated tax incentives as a specific measure on a vote of 9-3.

Several comments received on the energy plan recommended that Idaho should adopt the “International Energy Conservation Code” on a three-year cycle as a minimum for building energy efficiency standards and that the state should provide technical and financial assistance to local jurisdictions for implementation and enforcement. There was significant objection by local jurisdiction and others to this recommendation because not all local jurisdictions have the resources necessary to adopt the energy codes on a three-year cycle. 

The committee agreed that rather then requiring that Idaho adopt the codes on a three-year cycle that Idaho “review” the International Energy Conservation for its applicability for the state of Idaho and its local jurisdictions.

There is still a significant amount of support among some interest groups that Idaho adopt an “Energy Facility Siting Act” that would allow more state control in siting energy facilities in the state instead of the local jurisdictions having the major responsibility for siting energy facilities. 

The committee could not agree to the state having major siting authority, but it was agreed by members that Idaho state agencies should support local jurisdictions by “providing technical assistance to support local energy facility siting decisions and that local jurisdictions make a reasonable effort to hear testimony about the impact of proposed energy facilities from citizens and businesses in neighboring jurisdictions.”

The ISEA provided the initial recommendations for changes to the current energy policy that the committee used to revise the current plant. Many of the recommendations of the ISEA were agreed upon by the committee; however there were comments from other interested groups that the ISEA board is represented by a majority of utility and large industrial interests and as a consequence the board should include a broader spectrum of energy related interests, including consumer advocates and large rate payers. A motion was made by one member of the committee to make this recommendation to the Governor; however that motion failed by an 8 to 5 vote.

An additional issue addressed by the committee and defeated was a recommendation that “the Idaho Legislature should create an Office of Consumer Advocate to represent residential utility customers in matters before the Idaho Public Utility Commission.” There was some interest by committee members for including this in the energy policy, but it was defeated in part because establishment of a consumer advocate office would do nothing to support development of energy resources and should be pursued in separate legislation by legislators in support of the office. 

The motion to establish an Office of Consumer Advocate failed on an 8-5 vote but there may be one or more legislators that have an interest in proposing legislation next session that would establish such an office.

 The recommendations adopted by the Committee in its November 21 meeting will be formalized in a final document to be approved by the committee in a meeting to be scheduled in December. The final document will then be presented to the legislature for its approval in the upcoming session.

As I stated in my previous article, it is important that Idaho have an energy policy that addresses current energy issues to help ensure that our citizens continue to have access to a firm and economical energy supply. The interim committee has worked hard over the summer to revise our current policy to meet today’s energy needs and hopefully the revisions that we have adopted will be upheld by the legislature. 

Thanks for reading and as always continue to contact me with issues of interest. I can be reached by phone at (209) 265-0123 or by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825. And as we enter into this joyous Christmas Season let me take this opportunity to wish you and yours “A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!”



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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, A Seat in the House, Idaho Energy Plan, Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, Interim Committee on Environment Energy and Techno

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