The electricity that powers the City of Boise’s own facilities and operations will be 100% renewable by the year 2030.
-Mayor David Bieter, State of the City 2018 announcement.
Energy is essential to our daily lives. How often do you flip on a light switch or ignite the burner on your gas stove? We do these things every day, often without thinking about where the energy comes from. As a growing city, understanding where our energy sources come from and how we use energy is important.
We use the phrase “community energy” to identify all the energy used to power our city, heat and cool our homes, and allow our businesses and institutions to operate and grow. Boise’s primary sources of community energy are electricity, natural gas and geothermal.
Where Does Boise's “Community Energy” Come From?
Electricity is an essential part of modern life and is used for lighting, heating, cooling, powering appliances and many other purposes. Boise’s electric utility, Idaho Power, generates electricity from several sources. A significant amount is generated from hydroelectric dams that produce electricity from the water flowing in our rivers. Electricity is also generated from natural gas, coal power plants and from renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Natural gas is piped to homes and businesses and used for heating, hot water heating and other uses like gas appliances or fireplaces. Natural gas is sourced from other areas of the United States as well as other countries. Intermountain Gas is Boise’s natural gas utility provider.
The City of Boise operates the largest direct-use geothermal system in the entire country. Geothermal is an energy source that comes from heat stored inside the Earth’s core. Energy is provided to residential and business customers in the form of hot water pumped directly from the ground. It is used primarily for heating buildings in areas close to Downtown Boise.
Planning for the Future
Cities across the United States and around the world are establishing goals to address climate change issues, reduce energy use or transition to renewable energy sources. Boise has initiated a planning process called “Boise’s Energy Future” to consider the adoption of similar community-wide and municipal energy goals. Charting a course for Boise’s Energy Future supports our vision to be the most livable city in the country and ensures a path to responsibly powering our growing city.
The project supports previous energy and climate actions, including the signing of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and other sustainability and energy initiatives within city government. The project also provides an opportunity to begin addressing energy and climate issues on a community-wide scale.
In addition to supporting environmental and sustainability goals, Boise’s Energy Future also addresses other important needs in our community:
- Economic Development– A growing number of businesses are seeking locations that can provide power using renewable energy. Boise has an opportunity to become a location that can provide desirable resources for new and existing businesses.
- Resiliency and Security– Reliable energy is important to our daily activities. The ability to diversify our energy sources means that in the long run, we’ll be able to count on our energy and better handle any disruptions. Energy security means less reliance on fuel sources that are vulnerable to economic factors like price, supply and demand.
- Local Investment– Increasing energy production locally benefits Boise’s economy by keeping energy dollars closer to our city. Energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives can create local jobs as technicians are needed for installation and maintenance.
What is the Planning Process?
The planning process involves several important steps:
- Collect and analyze current energy usage information and data
- Develop city-wide goals with supporting programs and initiatives
- Review the goals for technical, regulatory and financial feasibility
- Complete a detailed planning document that identifies an action timeline and progress measurements
- Incorporate public feedback on drafted plan
- Present final plan to Boise City Council for consideration
Who is Involved in the Planning Process?
Public involvement will be an essential part of the planning process. A team of stakeholders with specialized knowledge of energy issues has been assembled to provide ongoing support, technical input and expertise throughout the process. The stakeholder team includes local utilities, significant energy users, environmental groups and other community energy experts.
The stakeholder team has met twice to provide project input.
March 2, 2018 Meeting Topics – Provide Project Overview, Review Background Data Collection and Assumptions, Obtain Initial Input on Vision for Boise’s Energy Future
July 13, 2018 Meeting Topics – Project and Data Analysis Updates, Discuss Initial Options for Goals and Objectives, Identify Next Steps
What is the Project Schedule?
Work started on the project in late 2017 and is anticipated to be completed in early 2019. Below is the tentative schedule for public participation for the project:
- Late Summer: Public Introduction and project background
- Fall: Draft plan presentation to public for feedback
- Winter: Plan adoption and implementation
The public will be invited to provide feedback and comment at provide feedback through open houses and a community survey later this fall.
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For more information, please contact us.