Letters From the West

Keen says Idaho Power will stick with coal for now

Matt Wagner, with his 18-month-old daughter Charlie wrapped around his leg demonstrates outside Idaho Power.

Matt Wagner, with his 18-month-old daughter Charlie wrapped around his leg demonstrates outside Idaho Power.

Idacorp CEO LaMont Keen told stockholders Thursday its subsidiary Idaho Power will continue to rely on coal plants in Wyoming and Nevada at least for now.

Keen told the 10 stockholders who attended the annual meeting that it will revisit its decision in its next two-year planning process. He singled out the decision of Nevada Energy to end its investment in the Valmy coal plant it owns with Idaho Power by 2025. He said Idaho Power will ask the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to review its decision to spend millions on required pollution control upgrades on the Jim Bridger plant in Wyo.

“Without these coal plants the air conditioners won’t be on and the pumps won’t be lifting the water on to the crops,” Keen said as he answered stockholder questions.

A questioner asked Keen’s response to a decision in April by Oregon’s PUC to disallow $40,000 — 10 percent of the $4 million portion of its investment in the Bridger upgrade because of “management failures.” The Oregon commission did find the investment prudent.

“We disagreed,” Keen said describing the action as a “$40,000 haircut.

“We’re taking it as a lesson learned,” Keen said.

Ten people from the Sierra Club demonstrated outside of Idaho Power’s headquarters urging the company dump its coal help its customers offset it with rooftop solar power.
And a stockholder disrupted the meeting saying Idaho Power misled stockholders about its planning discussions on solar.

Keen criticized people who bought stock just to come ask questions at the stockholder meeting and cause disruptions. He point to five years of growth by Idacorp.
“This should be a celebration for Idacorp,” Keen said.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Darrel Anderson said Idacorp expects to continue the growth trend in part because Idaho’s economy is now growing adding new customers and increasing power demand.
“Our outlook is positive even as we experienced a dry winter and a dry spring,” Anderson 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