Idaho Dispatch

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Lights Out?

By • June 16, 2024

Idaho Power has recently been conducting community meetings to explain the possibility of rolling blackouts across the gem state to address wildfire risk, threat, and mitigation.

Idahoans in the areas which could experience summer power outages have been receiving text messages such as this, inviting them to informational meetings in local communities.

Idaho Dispatch attended and recorded the meeting on June 13 in Kuna. You can listen to the presentation here.

Idaho Power Wildfire Safety

“Every summer, wildfires are a threat to our homes, farms, businesses, and forests. They can also cause power outages. In extreme circumstances, Idaho Power might proactively shut off power as a last resort in some areas to keep our customers, employees, equipment and the public safe. These outages, called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), could last several hours or even days, so make sure you’re prepared.”

This link directs to an interactive map where the Idaho Power service area allows Idahoans to enter a specific address to check on the status and risk to a particular location in real time. What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff?

“A public safety power shutoff, or PSPS, is when a company like Idaho Power proactively turns off power to an area where wildfire risk is high due to extreme weather conditions. The outage is an effort to keep our communities safe.

All customers should be prepared for outages, including a PSPS. Customers living in or near wildfire risk zones are more likely to experience a PSPS than others. Idaho Power has identified geographic zones with higher wildfire risk due to factors like vegetation, weather patterns, fire history, and structure density. For example, intense fires are more likely in forested areas than places with only low-growing vegetation like grasses.

In higher risk zones, we have changed operations to reduce the risk of wildfire during the fire season. These zones receive intensive inspection and vegetation management and are subject to special equipment and operational practices to reduce the risk of wildfire.”

The Idaho power website addresses the question, “When is a PSPS used?”

“PSPS events are used only during extreme weather conditions — primarily high winds and dry vegetation — that lead to high fire risk. Many factors go into the decision to call a PSPS. Using forecasts and real-time observations, the following are the primary factors we look at in determining if a PSPS is necessary:”

Five icons representing high temperatures, low humidity, high winds, dry vegetation, and public safety

Idaho Power is regulated by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) and in the case of emergencies such as a PSPS, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM), which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

“IPUC regulates investor-owned or privately-owned utilities that provide gas, water, electricity or some telephone services for profit. Examples are: Idaho Power and Intermountain Gas.

In addition to rates, billing issues, quality of service and customer relations, the Commission is also responsible for safe operations of the utilities it regulates including inspection of gas pipelines.”

A three-person Commission is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Idaho Senate to oversee IPUC. The commissioners serve six-year terms. These individuals have the statutory power to oversee the decisions and actions of Idaho Power because of their responsibility to maintain the “safe operations of the utilities” they regulate.

“The IPUC has quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial as well as executive powers and duties. In its quasi-legislative capacity, the commission sets rates and makes rules governing utility operations. In its quasi-judicial mode, the commission hears and decides complaints, issues written orders similar to court orders, and may have its decisions appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. In its executive capacity, the commission enforces state laws affecting utilities and rail industries.”

The current IPUC commissioners include Eric Anderson, John Hammond Jr., and Edward Lodge. Commissioner Anderson’s bio explains,

“Commissioner Eric Anderson was appointed to his current six-year term in January 2019 by Gov. Brad Little. It is his second term on the Commission, having been initially appointed in December 2015 by former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Commissioner Anderson serves on the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) Committee on Water as well as its Committee on International Relations. In November 2019 Commissioner Anderson was appointed Chair of NARUC’s Committee on Water.

Before joining the Commission, Anderson served five terms in the Idaho Legislature, from 2004-2014, and was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

As a member of the Idaho House of Representatives, Anderson served on a number of committees, including Environment, Energy and Technology, Commerce and Human Resources, Resource and Conservation, Business, and State Affairs. He also chaired a legislative Interim Subcommittee on Renewable Energy.

Anderson received a Bachelor of Art degree in political science and government from Eastern Washington University.

A general contractor and real estate broker, Anderson also served as director and vice president of Sandpoint-based Northern Lights Inc., an electric cooperative.

He has also served as a director of the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Idaho Energy Resources Authority. He is a past member to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Advisory Council and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s Executive Council.”

Commissioner Hammond’s bio details his experience,

“Commissioner John R. Hammond, Jr. was appointed to his first term with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission by Governor Brad Little in January of 2022.

Prior to being appointed to the Commission, John worked for the Idaho Office of the Attorney General as a Deputy Attorney General and later as the Commission’s lead Deputy Attorney General. During his career, John also worked in private practice and was a partner at Fisher Pusch LLP in Boise for eight years.

John earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Idaho and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Idaho School of Law.”

Commissioner Lodge is the newest member of the commission.

“Commissioner Edward Lodge was appointed to his first six-year term with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission by Governor Brad Little in February of 2023.

Before joining the Commission, Lodge served as a Policy Assistant and Communications Director under Governor Philip Batt (1994-1998), Special Assistant to Governor Dirk Kempthorne (1999), and as Government Affairs Specialist for Connolly and Smyser, Chartered (1999-2004). Lodge also served as Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Qwest/CenturyLink (2004-2020).

Commissioner Lodge serves on the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) Committee on Water.

Lodge received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and Organizational Leadership from George Fox University in 2005 as well as a Master of Business Administration degree from George Fox University in 2008.

Commissioner Lodge serves as President of Lodge Cattle Company and Random Ventures and sits on the Executive Board for Caldwell Night Rodeo, Western Idaho Fair and the Western Heritage Foundation.”

Idaho’s readiness and possible response to emergencies is also directly affected by the IOEM’s Director, William B. (Brad) Richy. The IOEM website explains his responsibilities:

“Brad Richy is the Director of Idaho Office of Emergency Management. As the Director of Idaho Office of Emergency Management, he is directly responsible for Idaho emergency readiness and preparedness planning in support of the Idaho Homeland Security and Emergency Management Strategies. He serves as the Homeland Security Advisor and principal Emergency Management Advisor to the Governor and The Adjutant General. As the Governor’s Authorized Representative Brad acts as the single point of contact for all federal, regional, and state emergency management activities. Brad also serves as the State Administrative Agent overseeing implementation and compliance of all eligible Department of Homeland Security sponsored grants. The Idaho Office of Emergency Management has seven offices around the state and is staffed with 40 full-time personnel. Brad serves on multiple national level working groups. Brad was the Director of the Joint Staff, Idaho National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters. As the Joint Staff Director, he served as the principal advisor to The Adjutant General on all matters pertaining to the formulation, review, and execution of all plans, policies, and programs affecting the Idaho National Guard and its relationships with the active/reserve components. In addition, he was responsible for all Idaho National Guard actions involving operations, logistics, resourcing, manpower, communications, planning, and intelligence.”

The risk of wildfires, and their possible effects on electric companies, was an issue of interest during last week’s annual meeting of the Western Governors Association, Brad Little and other Governors of western states met in California to discuss multiple topics. One resolution that came out of the meeting was titled “Policy Resolution 2024-05 – Disaster Preparedness and Response” which came under the category “Environmental Management, Forest & Rangeland Management, State-Federal Relationship, Wildfires.” Section 18 of the resolution explains,

“Extreme weather and wildfires pose significant risks and challenges to communities, public health and safety, and livelihoods. Additionally, they create potential liability for electric companies, regardless of the cause of the wildfire. The threat of significant liability can destabilize the financial health of electric companies, threatening their ability to continue operations. However, demands for additional clean electricity continue to rise. Keeping electric companies viable is essential to our energy needs and future economic development within our states. Western Governors recognize, that unlike other natural disasters, wildfires pose an exceptional liability risk for electric companies, placing them in a position that jeopardizes their ability to provide essential power services amid hotter and longer fire seasons. Western Governors urge Congress to collaborate with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to explore collaborative approaches to address the potential for large liabilities associated with wildfires. These approaches should consider that utility companies are not structured to meet the required risk diversification, solvency, or other conditions traditionally associated with insurance products.”

WGA 2024

Photo by Tyler Dammerman of Inflight Media

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Tags: Commissioner Edward Lodge, Commissioner Eric Anderson, Commissioner John Hammond Jr., Director Brad Richy, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Idaho Office of Emergency Management, Idaho Power, Idaho Public Utilities Commission, IOEM, IPUC, Policy Resolution 2024-05, power outage, PSPS, public safety power shutoff, Western Governors Association, WGA, Wildfire

29 thoughts on “Lights Out?

  1. IP. The feds must be involved.
    Pure bullshit. Just like Newsome’s CA.
    They’re killing farmers in SE by water curtailment.
    It’s NOT necessary. After Covid/Lockdowns & mandates, I’ve got ZERO trust.

    1. It is all engineered and by design. CA has been in the crosshairs for years, as has OR and WA. When does it end? They have to burn down healthy forests in order for us to be scared into the new green agenda/climate catastrophy scenario. I wish people would wake up. We are not any more drought-ridden (in fact this year is cooler than the last few) yet they predict all these fires. Why? Because they’ll be engineering them. Hegelian Dialectic in full view.

  2. The Governor declared a State of Emergency in Executive Order 2022-04. The Idaho Office of Emergency Management produced a 500-page “preparedness plan” which requires Idaho government agencies engage in active “preventive” measures. The State Legislature rubber-stamped the plan in the 2024 session. Get ready for a California-style dictatorship.

    1. You got that right, this is right out of the California playbook. This state is on a fast track to California policies, only us citizens, farmers, etc. will suffer.
      Little Brad is a spineless jellyfish.

  3. I can’t help but think this is nothing more than a grooming effort to prepare us for “net zero” life. Tell me what has changed from the last 20, 30,40 years that requires such a destructive, draconian policy? California does this to very populated areas that are 100 miles or more away from the threatened area. Let’s not look to California for ANY guidance for ANYTHING.

    1. Yes, let’s ignore numerous catastrophic wild fires that have burned thousands of homes and cost hundreds of lives. Bury your head in the sand, gnore historic events, ignore the conditions and proven causes, makes ZERO SENSE. Power companies are being held financially responsible by the courts for those events. Here they are planning, prepping a responsible course of action WHEN CONDITIONS WARRANT THEM. If a wildfire zone the increasing weather extremes and wild fires certainly should not be ignored.

  4. I sense gross overreach of government yet again. Idaho has no business meeting with “Western Governors” whose idea of government service is dictatorial style policies and draconian implementations.

  5. This movement as well as all others are implementing Agenda 2030’s 17 SDG’s and they are all incredibly interrelated as all things global are. Idaho Power is a globalist organization surrounded by NGO’s, and ass they use the Hegelian Dialectic, they appeal to the ignorant in supporting their globalist ideas and the ignorant voter base goes along with it. As far as the IPUC regulating the Idaho Power, what no one mentions is that IPUC is funded by profits from IP, or at least it was that way when I first learned about this cozy relationship. How can a regulatory unelected bureaucratic org regulate that which it gets its money from anyway.

    Going back to Agenda 2030, I am still standing back watching this agenda advance while no one even bothers to mention it or inform others about how it is all connected. Even Liberty orgs won’t touch it and I think because they don’t, we can scream and rant all we want and we will lose, do you know why? Because if we don’t know how it ia all connected, we can’t possibly fight it and win, that’s why.

    Agenda 2030 is a globalist construct concocted by the CFR to destroy national sovereignty (Creating soviet bloc-syle regions), collapse the economy, destroy business, ban cars, reduce population and empower the UN. Fires, water, borders, vaccines, technocracy and the relationship between businesses and private corporations and NGO’s as Public Private Partnerships touting SMART growth and Wetlands projects all; in the name of Climate change. I wish people would consider not using the language of the left and the globalists and call things what they are. Like republican’s call themselves conservatives and others not like them RINO’s, it tells me exactly what they know. Others like us are not RINOS, they are Neocons and they ARE conservatives! Democrats are not!

    I feel more alone than ever, a man standing alone on an island while the people I once considered myself close to seem to be doing whatever they are doing that still, even now, does nothing to increase awareness of the global emerging world government and proof of this was watching the ants flock to the convention as if it will save our country when it won’t if the people remain ignorant.

    1. “My so called friends have fallen under a spell. They look me squarely in the eyes and they say; well, all is well. Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high, when men will beg God to kill them, and they won’t be able to die” – Bob Dylan (Precious Angel)

      1. Bob Dylan got that from the Bible.

        Revelation 9:6
        “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”

    2. Too dangerous out in countryside, people must be herded into the nearest 15 minute city where all of their needs can be meted out by our government overlords.

    3. I should have read your comment before adding mine. You are spot on. This is a systematic and planned destruction by the global billionaires – or perhaps trillionaires at this point. They want it all, and they want to remove every last shred of power that we the people have.

  6. All of the above comments are correct. Not enough people are awake to reverse our loss of freedom and liberty.

  7. And yet chicken little and his cronies are continually put in office. Until people wake up and ignore the voting orders of outside influencers, they will continue to get what they voted for.

  8. Avista power is doing the same thing, they’re having a live question and answer meeting tomorrow night at 6pm.

  9. I might be the dumbest person here, but how does turning off the power supply keep the power poles, transformers, and cables from burning? Does this only address fires caused by the power supply itself overheating and causing the fires in the 1st place? I mean either way, someone’s losing their electricity for a period of time.

    1. Turning off the power is meant to PREVENT a wildfire from starting during extreme weather conditions. Extreme weather conditions place a lot of strain equipment, which could fail causing a fire.

    2. They pulled this EXACT thing after the Paradise fire in California. They tried to blame “electricity” – how crazy.

  10. After a huge fire in San Diego county took out neighborhoods and the final investigation proved that it was electrical wires that caught fire from improper maintenance of trees ( the utility company responsibility SDGE) rolling black/brown outs happened. The kicker is that SDGE subsidiary of Pacific General Electric Company was sued and lost- but the state granted a line item on the utilities bill to pay for the lawsuit claims and award. SO the people that lost homes won the lawsuit but all consumers in the state are paying for the damages- Idaho power is just covering it’s ass ahead of time.

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