Idaho has so much wind that tumbleweeds pile up along its fence lines and windsurfers careen across its lakes. Yet the 13th-windiest state in the nation lags in wind energy development, even as neighboring Washington, which ranks 24th, has become a leader in capturing power from the wind. Washington ranks fifth in the nation for wind energy production, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Only one wind turbine was installed in Idaho in the past two years, and it was at someone’s house. “Washington has a lot more wind farms than we do, and that is because of policy, not because of wind,” said Todd Haynes, a research engineer at Boise State University and co-owner of a small wind farm.
Two regulatory cases at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission are now being settled, ending a two-year stalemate that has blocked most new wind energy development in Idaho. As a result, the door could open to development of a renewable resource whose potential eclipses all of Idaho’s existing energy resources combined. “This is huge,” said Gerald Fleischman, an engineer with the Energy Division of the Idaho Department of Water Resources. “This is not a small, side alternative energy source that it’s nice to talk about and it’s going to help us out a little bit. That is not what it is. It is a big, monster resource.” Read my full story here in The Spokesman-Review.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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