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Posts tagged as “Idaho Power Company”

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?

Swan Falls: A smashup averted

A few quick thoughts on the Thursday announcement of an agreement between Idaho Power Company and various others, including the state of Idaho, about water rights linked to the Swan Falls Dam on the Snake River.

Swan Falls has a big place in Idaho water law, most critically because of the state Supreme Court decision from 1982 which said that Idaho Power had the rights to more water upstream of the dam (which is more or less south of Kuna) than almost anyone had previously suspected. That decision unleashed a couple of years of political and economic chaos until state and Idaho Power officials reached the agreement they more or less had to, which still gave Idaho Power the water it needed but didn't suck dry the desert land east of Boise, where many thousands of water users were on the verge of losing their water. The deal also launched the Snake River Basin Adjudication.

The deal was the one that had to be struck because if Idaho Power actually grabbed all the water which it might have been able to, a massive part of its rate base - the irrigation-based farm structure, some key industries and more - might have collapsed. The decision was the one that had to be reached. Over the years, though, Idaho Power inevitably took renewed looks at the agreement, and a couple of years ago challenged (in SRBA Court) some of its key terms.

The new agreement essentially puts that challenge to rest. (Okay: That's oversimplified, since it does have some substantive effects, but in the case of the larger issues it's nonetheless mostly true.)

The deal has been described as a major turning point. It is important, certainly, but mainly by way of averting a twist in Idaho history: A serious upending the 1984 Swan Falls agreement could have had massive unforeseen effects. It would have thrown a major curve into Idaho history. As matters stand, this is a deal that allows the big picture of Idaho development and history . . . more or less to proceed.

The IPCo grid, and the blowback

Also on the recommended reading list: A powerful blog called Stop Idaho Power, raising questions about the mass power transmission line proposed to run roughly between Hermiston, Oregon, and Murphy (in Owyhee County), Idaho.

This may seem like a narrow issue, but the B2H Grassroots Coalition has used its web site to fashion a remarkably comprehensive argument, drawing in everything form the "pre-approved ratemaking" legislation at the Idaho statehouse, to the seeming decision to avoid running the power lines (where possible) on public lands and focus on placing them on private lands instead.

There's some solid reporting and some intriguing analysis. Fascinating material.