Power Exec: There's Plenty of Energyby Martin Johncox
Idaho Statesman - June 27, 2001
Idaho Power CEO says problems lie in supplying users
There's plenty of energy to meet regional and national demand; getting it out of the ground and to customers is the main obstacle to solving the energy crisis, said Jan Packwood, president and CEO of IdaCorp Inc. and Idaho Power Co.
Political and social opposition to new power plants will be a significant challenge, Packwood said, referring to a proposed natural gas-fired plant near Middleton.
Packwood spoke to a luncheon Tuesday hosted by the City Club.
"There's a myth that we can't balance energy exploration with environmental considerations," he said, "but we are going to have to find the will and the ability."
Packwood said Idaho Power Co. plants should be sited close to the areas they serve, and that it's not technically or financially feasible to put power generation plants in remote areas.
"We're in the early days of a very severe energy crisis, and it's not going to self-correct," Packwood said. "We haven't run out of energy -- we've run out of the ability to increase its daily supply on an incremental basis."
Packwood outlined some reasons for shortages of oil, natural gas and electricity:
"Not only is new refinery capacity not being built, in the last 25 years, 37 oil refineries have closed," Packwood said.
"Demand is rising, but supplies are clearly limited, and there's an uncertain political environment," Packwood said.
Political and environmental concerns are major roadblocks, Packwood said.
"Conflicts between cities, counties, states and local jurisdictions are the biggest problem," he said. "North America is the richest continent in natural gas, but 68 percent of reserves are in closed or restricted areas.
"If we fail to meet the challenge, it will threaten national prosperity, threaten national security, and it's literally going to alter the way we live our lives."
Gary Richardson, executive director of the Snake River Alliance, said Packwood should put more emphasis on conservation because inexpensive power promotes wastefulness.
"As long as Idaho has the cheapest power in the country, we're going to have the highest energy use per capita," Richardson said. "Fifteen years ago, Idaho Power had a pretty progressive conservation program. And had they maintained that, they would have had a greater capacity to gear up for the current problems."
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