Idaho is a state with a wealth of energy potential, boasting a variety of renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy. The Office of Land Management recently held open house meetings to discuss the process of a landscape-scale strategic approach to renewable energy projects on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Southern Idaho. The purpose of these meetings was to collect feedback, increase partner participation, explain how BLM processes applications, and highlight the multiple uses of public land. The information gathered will be summarized in a public report for renewable energy developers to use when considering projects on public land.
The Post Falls hydroelectric project on the Spokane River in northern Idaho has been an important source of electricity since its completion in 1906. It has been used to power mines, mills, factories, cities, businesses and railroads in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. Avista's annual reports on the Energy Independence Act show the growing quantities and types of qualified renewable energy being obtained. The Post Falls hydroelectric power plant was first discovered by pioneer Frederick Post at the end of the 19th century. He immediately recognized its development potential and it was soon providing power to mines located nearly 100 miles away through the world's longest high-voltage transmission line. In the early 1990s, a group of citizens from the community of Post Falls, Idaho built Falls Park along the North Channel of the Spokane River to improve recreational opportunities at the site.
Michele Drake is the environmental compliance coordinator for Avista Corporation, which owns the Post Falls plant. Idaho's renewable energy resources are an important part of its energy portfolio and provide many benefits to its citizens. The BLM's open house meetings are an important step in ensuring that these resources are used responsibly and sustainably. With careful planning and management, Idaho can continue to benefit from its renewable energy resources for many years to come.