Idaho Power Co. has announced its intention of going to 100 percent clean energy in the next 25 years.

On Tuesday, the utility stated that it would completely cut carbon-emitting energy sources such as coal and natural gas from its portfolio by the year 2045.

Instead, the utility will deliver power from carbon-free energy sources such as hydropower, wind energy and solar.

The utility announced a deal with a company called Jackpot Holdings to purchase up to 120 megawatts of solar energy. Jackpot plans to construct a solar-generation facility on land south of Twin Falls. The agreement will be submitted to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for approval, according to an Idaho Power news release.

Jackpot Holdings intends to finish construction on the facility by 2022. Idaho Power’s agreement will last for 20 years, with the possibility of acquiring the facility. The utility will pay $21.75 per megawatt hour at first, which is one of the “lowest-cost solar contracts of its size that’s been publicly reported,” Idaho Power stated.

That energy source will be supplemented by additional investments in wind power, as well as clean-energy battery storage projects.

“Providing 100 percent clean energy is an important goal for Idaho Power,” CEO Darrel Anderson said. “More and more customers are telling us it is important to them, too. We believe this goal is attainable. We have a great head start, thanks to our clean hydropower plants that produce almost half the energy our customers use. Our recently signed agreement with Jackpot Holdings moves us even closer.”

 

Cutting coal

The Jackpot Holdings project will help wean Idaho Power off of coal power supplied by the North Valmy plant in Nevada.

The utility currently procures about a quarter of its electricity mix from coal or fracked gas, according to a news release from the Sierra Club.

“In recent years, the company has begun to prepare for an earlier exit from their coal investments, including the North Valmy plant in Nevada and Jim Bridger Plant in Wyoming,” the Sierra Club stated. “Idaho Power recently filed a plan with state regulators to exit Valmy Unit 1 this year and Valmy Unit 2 by 2025 rather than running the units into the 2030s, calculating that replacing coal with cleaner options would save customers $12.2 million.”

The Sierra Club reported that Idaho Power was considering shutting down two units in the Jim Bridger plant six years earlier than planned, in 2022 and 2026, respectively.

“Kudos to Idaho Power for looking seriously toward the future and what’s best for our state,” said Zack Waterman, director of the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club. “Moving away from fossil fuels is not only necessary to protect our climate and quality of life, but it’s also an enormous economic opportunity for the Gem State.”

Gov. Brad Little applauded the move as well.

“This plan demonstrates Idaho Power’s commitment to doing what’s right for customers’ pocketbooks and the environment,” Little said. “It also shows innovation can improve our lives with solutions that are reasonably priced, responsible and delivered without government intrusion.”

Idaho Power reported that it has cut the intensity of carbon emissions from its energy mix—pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour—by almost half in the last 14 years.

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