BOISE — Idaho ranks 13th in the nation for its viability for wind power projects. But it has yet to realize that potential.
“When you look at this, we have not really even scratched that surface,” said John Steiner, a wind project developer and rancher based in Owyhee County.
Steiner made his comments during a press conference held by Idaho Energy Freedom Foundation as part of its Idaho Energy Freedom Education Day at the state capitol. The organization formed in the past few months and is “dedicated to educating Idahoans about the economic benefits of clean energy,” according to a press release from the organization.
On Wednesday, a few environmental nonprofits and other organizations tabled in the rotunda as part of the education day.
Steiner said he is passionate about doing things sustainably. He raises his specialty, all-natural beef and believes that “we owe it to ourselves to do the same thing with our clean air, and our ambition to make our country better and safer,” saying that prioritizing clean energy would make Idaho more self-reliant.
Idaho is a net-energy importer, said Peter Richardson, the chairman of Idaho Energy Freedom and a lawyer specializing in energy-related law.
“That means we’re energy dollar exporters,” paying states like California, Wyoming and Washington to have energy sent here, Richardson said. “So when we build energy projects in Idaho, it helps keep our dollars here to keep our economy stronger, and keep people employed locally.”
Chantel Greene’s company, Xexus Greene Energy LLC, is a Native American and woman-owned energy consulting company. Greene, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, said her company helps connect tribal communities with non-tribal companies and organizations to “address climate change and natural resource issues, help develop mitigation strategies, lower energy consumption, and improve environmental health, while boosting workforce training and development.”
Greene comes from a fishing family, and she sees her company’s work as helping preserve natural resources.
“The work going forward is a cornerstone to me and my family … and to protect our resources, preserve them for future generations is what Xexus Greene Energy LLC stands for,” Greene said.
Idaho Energy Freedom is not a lobbying organization, but its members plan to keep an eye out for any legislation introduced that could affect green energy development in the state, Richardson said.