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Commentaries and editorials

Back It or Lose It

by Dan Goicoechea, Director of Information, Idaho Farm Bureau
Idaho Farm Bureau Opinions, June, 2001

Idaho residents are walking a shaky tightrope and don't even know it. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commision license for the Hells Canyon Complex expires in July of 2005. The complex is the backbone of the Idaho hydropower system, providing more than 70 percent of Idaho Power's total hydropower generation. But some groups oppose re-licensing and are fighting against it. Others want strings attached that translate into outright extortion.

The loss of this renewable source of electricity could return the Pacifici Northwest back to the Stone Age.

Some are saying we shouldn't be dependent on hydropower -- that we should rely more on solar and wind power.

The problem with their assessment is this: wind and solar technology has not reached a point where they are affordable by regular homeowners. Wind and solar research is at least a decade from a cost-effective level. What do we do until then?

The extreme environmentalists in Idaho say they're pulling out all stops in an effort to not only stop re-licensing but to prevent new dams. All of this rhetoric looks great on paper, but what happens when there is not enough electricity to turn on the lights -- not to mention run computers, television sets, and washers and dryers? The leaders of Idaho's envrionmental movement need to find a more moderate and realistic approach that all homeowners can support.

Idaho Power is staying in the eye of a hurricane. The company wants input, and they want to spread the word: "It is important for agricultural interests and all stakeholders to understand the potential cost and operation impacts of re-licensing Idaho Power's largest hydropower facility," said Richard Hahn of Idaho Power.

As Idaho and the Pacific Northwest grow, more and more hydropower is needed. We need to be talking about more water storage capability, not less.

Power bills are climbing significantly. If a few environmental zealots have their way and block re-licensing, you'll be buying power from fossil fuel power plants at astronomical rates. One day you might have to take out second mortgages to pay for a year of power.

Now is not the time to upset the licensing process; now is the time to support and help get re-licensing before we lose one of our greatest assets -- cheap, clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

Also in the June Issue . . .

Farm Bureau Moves Up in Power 25 Survey

America's farmers and ranchers are having their voices heard by lawmakers as indicated by a new Fortune Magazine survey. In the magazine's 2001 Power 25 survey that ranks the most influential organizatioins in Washington, D.C., the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) ranked 15th, up from 21st in the previous survey.

"Being recognized for doin what we are supposed to do is flattering and serves as an incentive to move further up in the rankings next time around," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "For the third time in as many surveys, AFBF placed among the elite top 25. Those we work with recognize us as truly representing the interest of our members and for being the most reliable and credible voice for American agriculture."

In determing the rankings, the magazine distributed questionnaires to every member of Congress, along with senior Captiol Hill staff members, senior White House aides, professional lobbyists and top ranking officers of the largest lobbying groups in Washington.

"As is true for all Farm Bureau accomplishments, it is our volunteer member who is directly responsible and deservest the credit," Stallman said. "Whether traveling to Washington personally, visiting local office or writing letters, Farm Bureau members are powerful and influential lobbyists for our industry. Farm Bureau members' ability to explain our policies and legislative goals helps us frequently prevail over campaigns supported by heavily financed opposition. Our many professionals who train, inform and motivate members to act also deserve a great deal of credit."

The Power 25 list, along with an accompanying article, appeared in the May 28 issue of Fortune Magazine that went on sale May 21. It also can be found online at

Related Links:
Dam Breach by Dan Goicoechea, Idaho Farm Bureau Opinion
Energy Act 6/01, Idaho Farm Bureau News
Idaho 1st to Bring New Energy On Line to Address Power Crunch 6/01, Idaho Farm Bureau News

Dan Goicoechea, Director of Information, Idaho Farm Bureau
Back It or Lose It
Idaho Farm Bureau Opinion - June, 2001

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