More Idaho Cities Riding the Clean Energy Wave
They’re not the first and they certainly won’t be the last, but three more Idaho cities are showing how they truly “get” how energy efficiency and renewable energy programs can chop away at their utility bills and help their communities stake a claim to the sustainable energy movement at the local level.
News accounts in the last week show how, city-by-city and county-by-county, local governments aren’t waiting for the state to fully implement the three-year-old 2007 Idaho Energy Plan. Instead, they’re reaching out to the private sector, utilities and other government agencies to get these innovative energy programs off the ground. Here’s a quick round-up of recent developments in Post Falls, Pocatello, and Ketchum:
POST FALLS: The Panhandle border town of Post Falls has made renewable energy development a priority, according to a report by Coeur d’Alene Press writer Brian Walker.
“Aside from trying to exit the recession in one piece, sustainability projects will be high on our list this year,” the Press quoted City Administrator Eric Keck as saying. Post Falls believes solar and wind will soon become a part of its energy future, with solar PV on the City Hall roof and abundant wind resources on the nearby Rathdrum Prairie. The Press reports that former city engineer Bruce Noble, now a consultant, has submitted a proposal to study sites suitable for wind and solar sites: “The investment of approximately $15,000 places us on the road to be able to change the way we use and look at our energy consumption,” Keck said. “This proposal would be the initial step to help the city move toward a more conscious effort to save and actually produce our own clean sources of energy.”
Keck said once the city has the assessments in hand, it will approach its utility, Avista, and federal agencies to seek financial incentives. Read the full article.
POCATELLO: Idaho Falls TV station KIVI reported last week that the Pocatello Planning and Zoning Commission wants to figure out how to cut through bureaucratic snags to put up wind turbines in the city of Pocatello – a place where wind is often in abundant supply.
“If we really want to promote wind power in the city, which I believe we do, we need to make it easier for wind turbines to go in and delineate where they would be welcome and where they maybe would be inappropriate,” reporter Genevieve Judge quoted P&Z Chair Marjanna Hulet as saying. The only turbine in town is currently at the Pocatello Community Charter School, where school Dean Martha Martin said the wind generator is part of an “overall commitment to environmental education and teaching kids to be stewards of the natural world.”
So Hulet and the city’s planners are looking to revise the city’s 25-year-old code to see if it can be made more turbine-friendly. Bingham County just to the north has had more than 200 applications to erect wind turbines in the past year, KIVI reported. Read the full article or watch the news report below.
KETCHUM: Also last week, the city of Ketchum began what may be a long process to create a green building code, according to Idaho Mountain Express writer Trevon Milliard.
“The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission is just hearing from Hailey and Blaine County, both of which have had committees working for about a year to investigate the kind of enforcement that can be done in requiring buildings to be more efficient, and what system would work best,” Milliard writes. Some problems have been identified with the “green codes,” including the use of using green building codes offering incentives for building more efficient buildings. For instance, the city of Hailey tried forgiving building permit fees and moving green building applications higher on the list for review, but so far no buildings have qualified, according to Milliard’s story.
As a result, the city is considering a mandatory higher efficiency requirement and a rating system, but that is still being explored. Read the full article.
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