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Idaho Eyes 100% Renewable Energy By 2045

Idaho Power, the state utility, plans to retire all its coal power plants and generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045, NPR reports, citing an announcement by Idaho Power.

Idaho Power already gets almost 50 percent of the power it generates from hydropower and will also pursue solar and wind power to replace coal in its clean energy drive.

For starters, the utility plans to retire two coal power plants by 2025 and eventually shut down the third and last one. Also, Idaho Power has sealed a deal to buy electricity that will be produced at a 120 MW solar farm that is yet to be built in the state.

With these plans, Idaho is joining other utilities in a renewable energy drive that seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels amid growing opposition spurred on by climate change reports.

These efforts are already paying off: earlier this month the EIA reported electricity produced from renewable sources reached a record of 742 million MWh last year, an almost double increase over ten years. As portion of the total energy mix, renewables accounted for 17.6 percent.

What’s more, most of this increase came from solar and wind: a 90-percent increase between 2008 and 2018. Wind power generation jumped the most, from 55 million MWh in 2008 to 275 million MWh in 2018. it was only exceeded by hydropower, which totaled 292 million MWh in 2018.

The Idaho utility did not mention what it planned to do with its three gas-fired power plants. Nuclear energy could also find a place in the new energy mix of the state. There are plans in place to test a new sort of modular nuclear reactor in Idaho. The modular reactors each have a generation capacity of 50 MW.

"We'll be evaluating all kinds of new, existing and emerging technologies to help us reach our goal,” Idaho Power said earlier this month in response to a question about whether nuclear will be included in its cleaner energy mix. "That includes looking into nuclear technology, such as the small modular reactors planned in eastern Idaho."

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Lee James on March 28 2019 said:
    I'll be interested to see how the small modular nuclear reactors perform -- still looking for a more friendly atom. . . .

    Meanwhile, kudos to Idaho for making the transition away from coal swiftly and hopefully, with a resilient grid.
  • Ronald Wagner on March 28 2019 said:
    Any attempt at building nuclear plants is foolhardy. Natural gas will be needed for base power whether purchased from a neighboring state or within Idaho.

    Customers will pay more for solar or wind power than they would with natural gas. They should be made aware of that.
  • Alex Cobabe on March 28 2019 said:
    If Idaho becomes 100 percent renewable it will be because they already get most of their energy from hydroelectric dams. Those dams can be supplemented with wind and solar a little bit, but Idaho of its small population isn't going to be some shining example of how a city can be 100% clean and green. They will still need fossil fuels to farm those famous potatoes.

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