Idaho is one of the leaders when it comes to clean energy in the United States. Renewable sources from hydroelectric, wind and solar energy account for the majority of the state’s power production.
The use of coal has dropped significantly in the past few years, and Idaho is taking further steps to eliminate the need for its use. Completely relying on renewable energy sources may be a difficult task for some states, but Idaho has already built a solid foundation and is merely a few steps away from that goal.
Solar energy in Idaho has become a viable source of power for both utility companies and individual residents. Community-owned solar farms have been proposed, and legislation is in the works protecting the rights of Idaho citizens to install solar panels in their own homes.
Developments in solar power technology have made solar panels significantly more efficient compared to those from the past decades. Solar panels have also become more affordable for individual home use. Solar panels can provide enough energy to meet the requirements of a normal residence, and payment schemes can sometimes cost almost the same as what you would normally pay for your electric bills.
More than 60% of Idaho’s electrical power generation comes from hydroelectric plants. These plants continuously provide the state with a clean and renewable energy source. They harness the power of water and gravity through turbines that convert massive amounts of kinetic energy into mechanical energy. A generator connected to these turbines finally converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy, which then enters the electrical grid.
Hydroelectric power is one of the most efficient and reliable renewable energy sources. However, it accounts for a mere 7.5% of the power generation in the U.S. Recent droughts have cut energy production, but only by a fraction. Idaho has been relying on hydroelectric power for its energy needs by as much as 70% in the past 10 years, but recent events have dropped this number down to 60%.
However, hydroelectric power is still one of the most viable sources of clean energy for the state, even as it explores additional sources to fully realize its goal of becoming completely reliant on clean energy sources.
Though wind energy has proven to be a viable energy source in Idaho, it is also the most contentious. Massive wind power projects were developed only to be cut down by the Public Utilities Commission.
Electrical generation from wind farms rose to levels that exceeded the state’s energy needs. However, the unpredictable nature of wind energy caused tensions in the electrical systems, forcing the PUC to limit the size of wind energy projects. Larger wind farms are now forced to supply the energy that they produce to facilities outside of Idaho.
Clean energy may soon be a reality in Idaho’s future. The state’s effort on utilizing clean renewable energy can clearly be seen, and residents are empowered to use alternative sources of energy in their own homes.