Friday, February 7, 2014

Idaho Power forms new working group

Company hopes to create ideas for local projects

Express Staff Writer

     Idaho Power Co. is creating a community advisory group in the Wood River Valley to help it incubate ideas on local generation of power through renewable resources.

     Corporate Communications Leader Lynette Berriochoa said the idea for locally produced power originated during meetings of a community advisory committee convened in 2007 to make recommendations for ways to meet the valley’s power demand in coming decades. That committee also recommended a second, redundant power line between Hailey and Ketchum as part of a Wood River Electrical Plan.

     “It’s time to find out what the community’s asking for,” Berriochoa said. “With so much progressive thinking in the valley, it seems like a great place to try something like this.”

     On Jan. 15, Director of Operations Strategy Karl Bokenkamp and Community Relations Representative Dan Olmstead met individually with the mayors of Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue to obtain a list of potential participants in the working group.  Bokenkamp said he is in the process of finalizing the makeup of a group that will consist of 10 to 15 people.

     Berriochoa said the group will rely on Idaho Power’s own experts as part of the collaborative effort, as well as possibly drawing on the expertise of other recognized independent experts such as the Idaho National Lab, state universities, other utilities, interest groups and nonprofit organizations.

      Bokenkamp said he hopes the group will hold its first meeting this month and will meet monthly this spring and summer to share their interest and ideas in renewable energy, learn about the valley’s energy needs and potentially propose a renewable development that could be tested through a pilot project.

     Bokenkamp said one example of a potential project is a small solar-generation facility that would distribute power to a neighborhood. He said such a project would create better economy of scale than do photovoltaic installations on individual homes.

     “It’s one thing that seems to be getting some traction in other areas,” he said.

     Bokenkamp called the renewable energy group “an outstanding opportunity for Idaho Power to collaborate and partner with a community interested in, and passionate about, supporting distributed renewable resources.”

     “I’m excited about the opportunity and looking forward to working with the community and finding out what our customers are looking for in the area,” he said.

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