Letters From the West

Idaho Power recognized for sustainability

Idaho Power’s three year fight with renewable energy developers hasn’t stopped the utility from getting national recognition for sustainability.

The utility that serves more than 500,000 customers across southern Idaho and Oregon was chosen by Target Rock Advisors for its 2013 Sustainable Utility Leader Award.

The consulting firm that scores and benchmarks energy companies for their sustainable practices picked IdaCorp, the holding company that owns Idaho Power, as one of three award recipients in the mid cap category for utilities worth $2 billion to $10 billion. It credited IdaCorp for environmental stewardship, economic performance and societal contributions.

“Today’s investors always look to traditional metrics, but they’re also beginning to examine how companies are doing from an environmental, social and governance standpoint,” said IdaCorp Director of Investor Relations Larry Spencer. “This award helps differentiate our company from other utilities as a long-term, sustainable investment.”

IdaCorp was selected for the honor from 150 publicly traded energy utilities and related companies across the country. It represents how the company was doing in 2012, said Richard Rudden, managing partner and founder of Target Rock Advisors.

So the cutbacks Idaho Power made in its energy efficiency and demand side management programs nor its changes in its solar and wind metering program this year were counted in the scoring Rudden told me in a telephone interview.

But Idaho Power’s more than 400 megawatts of wind power, which the utility was forced to buy under federal law, did count and it helped Idaho Power along with its legacy hydroelectric power dams.

“There is inherent value in renewables,” Rudden said. “It means their emissions are very low compared to other utilities in the nation.”

Rudden said the scoring also gave the utility good marks for financial soundness and customer satisfaction, which are important to the scoring.

“Its about consistency over all operations,” he said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West