Letters From the West

Otter honors Idaho companies for energy efficiency

Electric power transmission lines going across public land (BLM photo)

Electric power transmission lines going across public land (BLM photo)

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, very early in his first term, recognized the value of energy efficiency for cutting costs to government and industry. He touted Monday how energy efficiency helped blunts the effects of deep budget cuts on Idaho schools.

He proudly announced the establishment of the BSU-based Energy Efficiency Research Institute, which is part of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in 2010. Otter announced Tuesday the first winners of the Idaho Awards for Leadership in Industrial Energy Efficiency.

The winners were: ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston of American Falls,ON Semiconductor of Pocatello and the J.R. Simplot Co. Smoky Canyon Mine near Soda Springs.

The three facilities saved enough energy to power more than 400 Idaho households for a year.

“With the industrial sector being the largest energy consumer in Idaho, we need to aggressively pursue reasonable cost-effective energy efficiency,” Otter said.

Otter became a supporter of energy efficiency as a natural outgrowth of his former father-in-law, J.R. Simplot’s business philosophy, he once told me. Simplot was always trying to turn waste into a product, such as feeding cattle old potatoes.

When electric power was dirt cheap it was hard to pencil out power savings. But over the last decade energy efficiency has become regularly the cheapest energy source for companies and other utility customers.

In his press release Tuesday, Otter said it also is a public good.

“By pursuing these opportunities, we free up capacity on our transmission system, make more energy available to help our Idaho businesses expand, and ultimately become more economically competitive,” Otter 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