Commentary: Reaping benefits from wind farms

Idaho has something out-of-state utilities covet: a ready source of renewable wind power. If we do not continue to develop wind power, for Idahoans' benefit, someone else will gladly step in.

Someone following the path of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS.

The Salt Lake City group provides power to several Utah cities, and has clients in several other states, including Idaho. UAMPS says it will announce plans within 90 days to build a wind farm in Idaho.

Under pressure from environmental groups, UAMPS has ditched its plans to build a 900-megawatt coal-fired generator, according to the Provo Daily Herald, and is looking to pick up a 40- to 60-megawatt sliver of the slack from its Idaho wind farm.

As coal falls into disfavor — and becomes the carbon footprint utilities look to sidestep — renewable energy sites will become an increasingly hot property. That's where Idaho enters the picture.

The state ranks No. 13 in the nation for wind power potential. Also of significance — considering the high costs and the regulatory challenges affixed to power transmission — Idaho's wind potential eclipses Washington and Oregon, combined.

Wind power is an Idaho growth industry. The question is, who benefits? Is wind power a valuable commodity to export, like Idaho's potatoes? Or is it a scarce resource to covet, like Idaho's water?

The answer lands somewhere in the middle.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Idaho Statesman.