Farm Bureau tours southeast Idaho wind farms
Today the Idaho Farm Bureau invited three state representatives to tour the Power County wind farms and hear the pro's and con's of wind turbines that have been popping-up around the state.
Farm Bureau representative John Thompson said they support these local wind farms because not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also support local landowners exercising their private property rights.
Representative Julie VanOrden was in attendance along with representatives Douglas Hancey and Paul Romrell.
"We want to learn more, we want them (lawmakers) to hear the same things we are hearing and so when...they go back to the state legislature to consider things that impact these industries, they have a basis of understanding," Thompson said.
He said major power utility companies do not support the wind industry for a number of reasons - one of which, is that wind power is all subsidized.
But, Thompson feels that excuse is irrelevant.
"All of our power is subsidized," Thompson said. "Who built these dams? That was tax dollars that did that so there is no power that is not subsidized."
He said another reason why wind power might be contested by these power companies is because wind power is not the same as coal or gas-powered plants. Wind power is hard to regulate and takes adjusting to.
A spokesperson for the Power County wind park said the 18, 2.5 megawatt Nordex wind turbines sitting in the Power County hills emit enough energy to power roughly 16,200 homes each month. They said all of the energy goes into the same power grid as other sources of energy generated throughout the area flow into.
However, some of these big power utility companies said they are not against wind-powered energy - they are just not necessarily for it.
"We are neutral," Idaho Power Company Regional Customer Relations Manager Steven Muse said. "We are in favor of making sure we have a diversified energy mix. As it is now, we have 17 hydroelectric dams, three coal-fired plants, and three natural gas plants."
Muse also mentioned through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, Idaho Power purchases energy from independent power producers such as wind generators.
Representative Julie VanOrden comes from a farming background and said the tour has given her a new perspective on wind energy.
"There are two sides to every story and coming out here gave me a new side to the story," VanOrden said.
She also mentioned there might come a time when everyone will be needing alternative sources of energy, but it all depends on what the demand for energy looks like in the future.
Thompson mentioned wind park representatives estimate the revenue coming back to Power County through tax dollars is roughly $225,000 each year, which goes to help fund schools, infrastructure, etc.
Idaho Power said wind-powered energy is more expensive than other revenues of energy generators. But, Thompson said that depends on external elements such as seasonal and weather changes.