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Idaho Power CEO to retire Dec. 31

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Power Co. Chief Executive Officer LaMont Keen is retiring at year's end, to be replaced by the company's chief financial officer. Darrel Anderson will step in for Keen Dec. 31. The state's largest utility made the announcement on Thursday. Keen has been employed at Idaho Power for nearly four decades and led the company since 2006. He'll remain on the company's board of directors after he leaves. Anderson began working for Idaho Power in 1996, serving as vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, vice president of finance and as a controller. He has a degree from Oregon State University in accounting and finance. Idaho Power serves 504,040 customers in a service area that includes southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. It gets electricity from dams, coal, gas and solar.

PUC ruling favors small renewable developers, but not big wind or solar projects

New rules governing small renewable energy projects in Idaho will likely make it tougher for wind and solar developers to succeed but will be helpful for new dairy digesters and small, canal-based hydroelectric projects, reports AP reporter John Miller. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission issued a 69-page decision today, establishing new ground rules for renewable power projects and regulated utilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, or PURPA, a 34-year-old federal law meant to promote alternative resources.

Under the decision,Miller reports,  solar and wind projects must generate less than 100 kilowatts, on average, to qualify for federally mandated contracts. That limit makes it more difficult for new projects to get off the ground but is a victory for utilities like Idaho Power Co. that complained they've been overloaded with unwanted wind power. By contrast, the three-member panel stuck with 20-year power contracts — utilities wanted just five-year pacts — and awarded valuable environmental credits to small developers, over utilities' insistence they were the rightful owners. This will help developers including those seeking to produce power from dairy manure by making it easier for them to win financing; click below for Miller's full report.

Wind industry wins FERC ruling against Idaho Power

Idaho's wind industry has won a major victory over Idaho Power in a ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Associated Press reports. FERC ruled that federal law doesn't allow a utility company to unilaterally curtail electricity purchases during times of light load when it has long-term power purchase agreements in place, like those Idaho Power has with wind-energy producers; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Idaho’s first big solar power plant readied

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Idaho's first big solar energy project could begin construction soon, a bright spot for alternative energy developers that are wrangling with regulators and utilities over their future. Solar panels for the Grandview Solar PV I have been delivered to a 180-acre field leased from the J.R. Simplot Co. southeast of Boise. Mark Scher is the Albany, N.Y.-based energy developer who purchased the project more than a year ago from an Idaho group. He told The Associated Press construction could begin “within the next few weeks.” Scher has a contract with Idaho Power Co. to sell an average 10 megawatts of electricity and aims to begin operations in January. Idaho Power now buys only minimal solar electricity, from customers who feed power from their panels back into the grid. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Idaho Power hires former state homeland security head as new corporate communications chief

Idaho Power has announced that it has a new director of corporate communications: Brigadier General William Shawver , who recently left his position as director of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, and who remains commander of the Idaho Air National Guard. Shawver headed the state bureau for nearly five years, and left July 27. He'll start his new position at Idaho Power on Sept. 4.

“Bill brings great experience in leadership, program management, communication and incident response, and we’re excited to have him on board,” said Jeff Malmen, vice president of public affairs for Idaho Power and former chief of staff to Gov. Butch Otter. At the utility, Shawver will lead a staff addressing external and internal communications, marketing and creative services. He is a 37-year veteran of the Idaho Air National Guard. Click below for Idaho Power's full announcement.

Popkey: Idaho Power joins forces with libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation

Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports today that Idaho Power Co. has joined forces with the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation, with both the utility and its CEO listed as sponsors of the group's upcoming annual banquet. “Idaho Power is the only old-guard sponsor,” Popkey reports. “The three other corporate backers are Internet Truckstop of Fruitland, DJM Sales & Marketing of Garden City, and Molitor & Associates, a small Boise-based lobbying firm.”

The power company also is a leading force in the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the state's biggest business lobby; oddly, the Freedom Foundation earlier this year helped kill an IACI effort to push for a state-run health insurance exchange. Idaho Power officials wouldn't tell Popkey why they're signing on with the group; you can read his full report here.

Idaho Power's move follows Avista Corp.'s controversial effort during the GOP primary election to target two longtime GOP lawmakers from North Idaho, unsuccessfully backing their tea party challengers. The utility that serves North Idaho fell short in the effort; Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, easily defeated their challengers.