Monday, July 08, 2013

Project threatens farms, ranches

An unknown number of unfortunate Idaho farm and ranch families are about to learn the meaning of the phrase "Step back and let the big dogs eat." Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power are preparing to create a right-of-way across southern Idaho to accommodate a massive power transmission corridor called Gateway West. We all need power and infrastructure upgrades are necessary. However, the proposed route of this 250-foot-wide, 990-mile-long project will come at a significant cost to many landowners. Over 700 miles of the project is slated to cross private land. In spite of the fact that 63 percent of Idaho is controlled by the federal government and ample amounts of that public land are available for this and projects like it, the utilities are planning on taking the path of least resistance -- in other words, private land. The cheapest, easiest, most efficient route provides the utility companies and their shareholders with the optimum return on their investment. It's much easier for the utility companies in the process of purchasing a right of way to insist on confidential negotiations with single landowners and bully them with the threat of eminent domain than it is to deal with the federal government and all its encumbrances, not the least of which is the Endangered Species Act...more

Another blessing of federal land.  As more federal land is set aside as Wilderness, National Monuments, etc. this will repeat itself across the west.


Tauna Christensen said...

I would like to answer the question Mr. Priestley posed in his article: why “Rocky Mountain Power is speaking for Idaho Power when the majority of the project is in Idaho Power’s service area?”

Gateway West is PacifiCorp’s (dba Rocky Mountain Power) BABY. In 2006, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company purchased PacifiCorp. Within that purchase agreement, PacifiCorp agreed to take on 1400 MWs of wind energy.

Since that time, PacifiCorp’s transmission plan has changed considerably. It can all be pinpointed easily to wind energy and is spelled out in PacifiCorp’s Integrated Resource Plans which they have filed with the IPUC. Here’s a link where I’ve given an overview:

Specifically regarding Gateway West, in the PacifiCorp 2011 Integrated Resource Plan on Page 81, it says:

“Unless significant wind resources are added to Wyoming as in the high C02 and high natural gas cost scenarios, the utilization percentage of Gateway West and Gateway South would be fairly minimal. This would be a prime factor for the Company to decide not to pursue building these incremental transmission segments.”,%20VOL%20I.PDF

If you need further evidence that Gateway West is wind-driven, please see this archived screen shot of PacifiCorp’s own website: The “Resources dependent upon Gateway West” table shows ALL wind resources, including PacifiCorp’s own 2075 MW of wind. (For some odd reason, PacifiCorp updated their Gateway West website on 5/20/2013 and scrubbed the “resources dependent” table from the page. Thank goodness for the Internet Archive Wayback Machine which takes screenshots of different websites at certain points in time. On 4/28/2012, the Wayback Machine did capture this PacifiCorp page and therefore captured the “resources dependent” table).

Please take notice that Gateway West is merely one line of transmission in the entire 8-9 segment Energy Gateway transmission project which PacifiCorp has planned, as stated in the PacifiCorp 2011 Integrated Resource Plan. In the 2011 IRP, it states that this entire project -- all segments -- is projected to cost $6 billion. However, the Idaho Statesman ran a story on 10/5/2012 where it said that Gateway West is projected to cost $7 billion – for this one line of transmission only.(1) That's more than we were told in 2011 that the entire Energy Gateway would cost. Furthermore, the first segment of the Energy Gateway project has already been built – Path C (i.e. Populus – Terminal segment). It was projected to cost $78 but ended up costing $801 million.

So while a handful of Farm Bureau big player farmers support wind energy – which wind energy's only value is farming the government for subsidies for all of those involved(2) -- the rest of Farm Bureau's customers/farmers will pay a HUGE price, along with all other Idaho citizens – while Warren Buffett et al ends up making a killing.(3) It’s really too bad no one has the integrity to give Idahoans the whole truth. In addition, it's an interesting twist on "love thy neighbor."

Tauna Christensen said...

PS– here’s information we requested from the IPUC last year regarding Rocky Mountain Power retail power sales for the state of Idaho:

2001 3,047,948 MWh
2002 2,699,511 MWh
2003 4,996,655 MWh
2004 4,223,365 MWh
2005 4,067,342 MWh
2006 4,340,452 MWh
2007 4,344,658 MWh
2008 3,390,924 MWh
2009 2,955,687 MWh
2010 3,326,294 MWh
2011 3,440,249 MWh

As you can see, by Rocky Mountain's own reporting, they have never reached the same levels of power sales in Idaho, actually since 2003 or earlier. Seems to disqualify any “new demand” argument that Rocky Mtn Power might use to convince Idahoans.

End notes:


“The $7 billion proposal by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power Co. to upgrade distribution of electricity would be the largest industrial project in the nation.”


Page 129 of PacifiCorp’s 2011 Integrated Resource Plan:

"It should be noted that primary drivers of wind resource selection are the requirements of renewable portfolio standards and the availability of production tax credits"


"Though PacifiCorp says it does everything possible to manage costs, its representatives are telling Utah customers to expect rate increases nearly every year for the next decade as it makes capital investments to clean up coal plant emissions and build wind farms, transmission lines and natural gas plants...”

“Buffett described MidAmerican as one of Berkshire's 'fabulous five' operating companies because of record profits -- profits he expects to continue this year.”