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Commentaries and editorials

Idaho's Energy Destiny

by Eric Loewen
Idaho Falls Post Register, November 25, 2003

In recent weeks, several people have written to complain about the electricity rates in Idaho Falls. I would suggest that the underlying cause of recent rate increases is that Idaho imports too much of its electricity. We are at the mercy of the states that export electricity to Idaho, such as Oregon and Washington. If they can sell electricity at higher prices to California, they will. That raises the price of electricity to us.

In terms of the average percent of electricity imported, Idaho is the worst state. The Energy Information Administration's data show that from 1990-2001 (the most recent year for which data are available), Idaho imported an average of 45 percent of its electricity. The percent imported has ranged from 30 to 61 percent. After Idaho, the next worst state is New Jersey, which imports an average of 28 percent of its electricity. California imports an average of 18 percent of its electricity.

If Idaho wants to control its electrical rates, Idaho needs to generate more of its electricity.

Almost all of the electricity Idaho generates is from hydroelectric dams. There is little diversity. It seems unlikely that there will be more hydroelectric dams in Idaho; there may be fewer. Assuming we do not want to burn more fossil fuels, our near-term options are nuclear and wind. We probably should be developing both in our state.

by Eric Loewen, Idaho Falls
Idaho's Energy Destiny
Post Register, November 25, 2003

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