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The greening of Idaho Power

Yesterday we receive a personal phone call from the communications office of Idaho Power Company (more properly, IdaCorp), inquiring after possible attendance at today’s stockholder meeting and offering open lines of contact concerning the meeting’s substance, and a pointer to a webcast of the meeting. It was nicely handled outreach, and welcome, but also unusual; corporations don’t typically go so far out of their way to bring stockholder activities to public notice. Unless, of course, there’s a reason.

This meeting provided some reason, though the situation was unusual here too: The key topic of discussion concerned a proposal that utility management had opposed: Steps intended to green the company, reducing the company’s carbon footprint and moving toward more renewable power sources. More precisely: “”BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors adopt quantitative goals, based on current technologies, for reducing total greenhouse gas emissions from the Company’s products and operations; and that the Company report to shareholders by September 30, 2009, on its plans to achieve these goals. Such a report will omit proprietary information and be prepared at reasonable cost.”

One activist involved in the effort sent out an e-mail today saying he would have been pleased had even 15% or 25% of the votes come down in favor; instead, the vote was a decisive 52%. “One of my most proud moments as an environmental extremist,” he wrote.

It was a stunning shift.

As always with Idaho Power, though, things get run through the filter of: How will this affect eventual takeover efforts? Make the company look more attractive in the current environment? Suggest that it is handcuffed more than some investors would like? Or something else?

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