Pacific Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says

85% of new energy can be met by more efficient use of existing generating plants-

For some time here, we have arguing against giant, new centralized power plants whether of “alternative” or traditional energy. This means that few nukes, giant wind farms, coal plants, or space-consuming solar farms are needed.

I would have missed this. I’m glad Rocky Barker was alert following Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s new plan. Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Jim Yost, one of Idaho’s two council members (and a strong corporate conservative) said “Everything we add to the system costs five to 10 times the resources we are using today,” Yost said. By this I takes it to mean the marginal cost of new generated power is 500 to 1000% the average cost of existing power.





  1. Percy Avatar

    You know, I have heard this before. Why don’t we hear this from our politicians? There was more awareness of energy waste in the 70s than now. I am really discouraged that the “alternative” energy movement is in the direction of centralized facilities rather than dispersed facilities too. That is the whole point! Use land that is already disturbed or wasted, as well as rooftops, highway medians, etc. We are taking two steps foward and three steps back.

  2. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    We need wind farms in the mid west and solar in the desert to bring many jobs back into America with a real power distribution to distribute the power out west. But Washington needs a maverick to kick GoldmanSachs and corporate America out of wall street. Elliot Spitzer would have really did the job, so they got him on sex who cares, wall street had a party when he left office. We really need clean energy not the old coal plants and clean coal which takes billions to build, we need infrastructure, water and sewer , bridges, trains, roads, when will we wake up.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I think there is a cultural misconception of energy conservation. To many it suggests privation and bother — turning off lights, keeping heat low in winter and high in summer, poor performance of vehicles, computers, etc.

    In fact, it means efficiency — less energy to do the same task. It doesn’t mean less energy use because you are doing some alternative task such as using a refrigerator too small for your needs.

  4. jdubya Avatar

    Does this power estimate include the loss of the electricity generation when the lower four Snake River dams are breached?

  5. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I worked on a construction project at the Westinghouse Nuclear Submarine area at the Idaho Engineering lab in 1959. We built something called a rheostat (2 of them) that put the electricity produced by the atomic submarine into the ground. (oops- there goes my top-secret clearance) At that time the project had an agreement with local power companies to not put that electricity into the grid. I was told that they were putting enough power into the ground to power the Idaho Falls area.
    If we decide to start using nuclear power again, the INEEL would be a logical place to build the reactors. At one time there were 40 experimental reactors on the site and it is already secure. There is enough underground water available on site to cool several reactors.

  6. Tim B Avatar

    I’m very tired but read the article. There were some things that just didn’t make any sense to me so maybe someone can explain.

    #1 “The council, which includes members from Idaho, Oregon Washington and Montana, set says if it meets its very aggressive target it could create 47,000 new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million tons. Simply put, it would be the cheapest way to meet the region’s energy demand, said Jim Yost, one of Idaho’s two members of the council appointed by Gov. Butch Otter.” #1Question…what industry will these 47,000 jobs be a part of?

    #2 “For customers who participate in the energy efficiency programs, electric bills could actually go down. But the council said such action would increase greenhouse gases and force the region to import more power.”
    #2Question…What does the above confusing statement mean?

    Maybe my tired eyes and brain just refuse to understand.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan