BOISE — Idaho Power Co. will continue to rely on coal to meet the state's energy demands, company officials said.
LaMont Keen, president and CEO of Idacorp and Idaho Power Co., said the company will continue to get power from coal plants in Wyoming and Nevada for at least the next two years.
"Without these coal plants, the air conditioners won't be on and the pumps won't be lifting the water onto the crops," Keen said.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Keen told stockholders at an annual meeting on May 16 the company intends to ask Idaho Public Utilities Commission to approve its decision to spend millions on required pollution-control upgrades on coal plants.
A contractor analyzed upgrading coal plants against the cost of building a gas-fired plant. The company's Langley Gulch gas plant near Fruitland cost nearly $400 million.
Idaho Power, Keen said, has raised its goal for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 to 15 percent after a majority of stockholders in 2008 urged the utility to cut emissions. As part of that, the company opted to spend up to $500 million for pollution-control equipment for two coal plants in Nevada and three in Wyoming. The company doesn't operate the plants but is a part owner in all five.
Idaho Power serves about 500,000 customers, the majority in Idaho but some also in eastern Oregon. The company gets about 40 percent of its power from coal.
Keen said the company has grown the last five years. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Darrel Anderson said Idacorp will likely continue growing because the state's economy is growing, increasing power demands and adding customers.
Demonstrators from the Sierra Club urged the company to get rid of coal and help customers put in solar power.