Idaho Power wind farm contract continues

A sprawling wind farm consisting of 11 properties near Hagerman and Burley with the backing of GE Financial Services, will continue working with Idaho Power despite the company’s decision to end its search for more wind energy.

IDACORP Inc., Idaho Power’s parent company, surprised wind farm developers Wednesday when it announced that it was no longer accepting proposals from developers to supply the company with 150 megawatts of wind power.

In May 2009, IDACORP issued a request for proposals from wind farm developers to purchase about 150 megawatts of wind turbines generation by 2012. Developers responded by flooding the utility with proposals, but suddenly ended the proposal process without awarding a contract.

But Stephanie McCurdy, corporate communication specialist with Idaho Power, said that the $500 million wind farm being developed by Exergy Development Group near Hagerman and Burley will continue to provide power to the company as planned.

She said Idaho Power currently has 200 megawatts of wind power connected to its grid, as well as an additional 250 megawatts contract that will soon be connected to the grid.

"The 11 GE Hagerman Valley wind projects, which will provide about 183 megawatts are included in those projects under contract," she said.

The project will come with with a 20-year power purchase agreements with Idaho Power, which is expected to create up to 175 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs in south-central Idaho. It was included as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to abide by the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, also known as PURPA, which mandates that utilities purchase energy from small renewable generation projects, including hydro, wind, geothermal and solar.

Idaho Power officials say that despite the early termination of the search for wind power providers, the company’s wind-generated power exceeds projections stated in its Integrated Resource Plan — a two year plan that identifies from what sources it will obtain energy to meet consumer demand.

On Wednesday, the company started the lengthy process of developing the next resource plan, which will go into effect in 2011. McCurdy said it’s too early to know if the company will seek additional wind-generated power in the next resource plan.

By Joshua Palmer,