Oil industry analysts say we should brace for another surge in gas prices.
A fall in U.S. supplies and rising crude oil prices pushed up the nation average of a gallon of unleaded to $3.55, up 7 cents in the past week, and the same factors are expected to increase the climb by 15 to 20 cents over the next week.
Meanwhile Idaho continues to have the seventh highest prices at the pump.
Idaho's average price for unleaded is $3.75 per gallon, about the same what it was a month ago, but a full 20 cents higher than a year ago.
Some of the lowest prices for a gallon of unleaded in Idaho were reported in Idaho Falls where a gallon was going for $3.55.
Some of the lowest prices of unleaded in Boise are reported to be near $3.68.
For the second time in as many days, Idaho Power reports that its customers pushed electricity usage to new levels July 2.
Sometime between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. July 3, more than 3,400 megawatts were needed by Idaho Power customers to beat record-breaking triple-digit temperatures. That's five megawatts higher than July 1's record mark. Previous record highs were set in July 2012.
Idaho Power again pointed to its Langley Gulch Power Plant, its new natural gas-fired facility near New Plymouth, as helping to meet the power demand. That's in addition to the 17 hydroelectric dams, coal-fired plants and wind turbines—all parts of the Idaho Power production portfolio.
If you had Monday, July 1 at 3 p.m., then you won the pool.
That's the date and time Idaho Power set a new record peak of electricity ... only one week into the summer of 2013.
Idaho Power reported that its Langley Gulch gas-fired power plant near New Plymouth was pushing out 286 megawats of power, while the company's three coal plants were producing 938 MW and nearly 1,300 MW was coming from 17 hydroelectric dams. Additionally, all of the wind turbines currently on Idaho Power's grid were generating 70 MW.
July 1's usage topped the previous record of 3,425 total MW on July 12, 2012.
“At the time of the new peak, all generation resources from our diverse energy portfolio were dispatched; we also had sufficient reserve power in place,” said Lisa Grow, Senior Vice President of Power Supply.
Meanwhile, triple digit temperatures, a heat advisory and hazardous weather outlook remains in effect for the region through the July 4 holiday.
Calling the Western United States “the breadbasket of energy,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert summed up a central theme for this year’s Western Governors’ Association meeting, which took place June 28-June 30 in Park City, Utah.
According to the Deseret News, governors in attendance—including Herbert; Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead; and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter—sat together with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy on a panel discussion focused on expanding energy production in the region.
Mead, whose state is at the center of a controversial coal export plan, trumpeted the fact that Wyoming already exports more energy than any state in the nation. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, meanwhile, said that his state had just enacted legislation to retire all of its coal-fire plants by 2025, according to the Associated Press.
Otter, for his part, said the feds need to do a better job combating forest fires, which have pumped more carbon and other pollutants into the air than all the coal-fired power purchased by the state.
The meeting, which according to the WGA website offered the 22 governors in attendance a sneak peek of The Lone Ranger, also included the unveiling of a “10-Year Energy Vision” statement by the association which is intended as a roadmap for national policy.
Introduced by Herbert, the report calls for, among other things, reducing imports of non-North American oil by ramping up domestic production; streamlining regulations and cutting permit review time to three years on federal lands; restoring financing for geothermal exploration; establishing permanent solutions for storage of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste; putting in place a raft of energy efficiency measures for commercial as well as residential buildings; beefing up the region’s electrical transmission and gas pipeline system; and recognizing the importance of renewables, as well as coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
While no specific mention was made in the report of global climate change, it did include a call for Western states to “strive to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases” through a combination of promoting “energy technologies and sources that lower greenhouse emissions” and working to ensure that those technologies are affordable and operating “on an equal playing field regarding regulations, tax incentives and other factors.”
On the heels of the WGA annual meeting, PowerEngineering.com reported July 1 that Richland, Wash.-based power supplier Energy Northwest—which operates solar, hydroelectric, wind and nuclear power facilities near the Columbia River—has partnered with Portland, Ore.-based nuclear technology company NuScale to study construction of a commercial, small-sized nuclear power plant “potentially in Southeastern Idaho” by 2024.
The power facility could include between six and 12 “small module reactors” and be located at a site like the Idaho National Laboratory.
Previous plans by other groups to build nuclear power generation in Idaho have met with failure, and no new nuclear plants of any size have entered service in the United States since the mid-1990s.
When natural gas exploration companies began what has become a nationwide drilling boom, they pointed to energy independence, but the Associated Press reports this morning that U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of their gas overseas in order to get a higher price.
"As the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers," AP reported. "If approved, the resulting boom could lead to further increases in hydraulic fracturing."
Hydraulic fracturing—better known as fracking—is a highly controversial method of injecting pressurized liquids and solids into the earth's crust in order to free up more gas and oil deposits.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that natural gas production has increased by one-third since 2005.
Meanwhile, three separate companies—Energy West Corporation, Jetez Petroleum and Snake River Oil and Gas—have been conducting a unique process called vibroseising in which they shake the earth in western Idaho and eastern Oregon to determine where best to explore for natural gas.
Another company, Bridge Resources—once trumpeted as the face of Idaho's new gas exploration bonanza—limped away from its Idaho operations after negotiating scores of Idaho land leases but ultimately collapsing under financial troubles. Snake River Oil and Gas snapped up much of Bridge Resource's assets in March 2012.
Beginning today, the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the latest version of the Gateway West power project - a proposed transmission line that would, if approved, run from Wyoming across southern Idaho.
The Bureau of Land Management is holding a series of public comment meetings around Idaho beginning this afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Boise Hotel and Conference Center on Vista Avenue. Later this week, the BLM will take the issue to similar meetings in Kuna, Murphy and Melba.
The proposed project - composed of 10 transmission line segments with a total length of 1,000 miles across southern Wyoming and into Idaho - is a joint effort by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, hoping to construct and operate 230 and 500 kilovolt transmission lines from the Windstar Substation near Glenrock, Wyoming to the Hemingway Substation near Melba.
The United States is positioned to beat out Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer. Bloomberg News reported this morning that the U.S. average daily output will climb 14 percent this year, the most in six decades, according to the Energy Department.
Even though America’s 6.8 million barrels a day in November was 30 percent less than Saudi Arabia’s 9.7 million, the International Energy Agency says the U.S. will be bigger by 2020.
As for alternative energy, a new study out of the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College finds that by 2030, it would be possible to power 99.9 percent of one of the nation's larger power grids with solar and wind energy.
“Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90 percent reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings,” the study authors wrote. "These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive.”
In July 2010, a Boise courtroom was the unlikely site of a legal battle surrounding the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in May 2010. Scores of attorneys squeezed into a a courtroom at the Boise federal building, where seven U.S. district Judges, handpicked by the U.S. Supreme Court, would determine the fate of hundreds of federal lawsuits filed in the wake of the disaster, which killed 11 men and spilled untold millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
This morning, the BBC reports that British Petroleum is set to receive a record fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion to settle criminal charges related to the disaster. It would be the biggest criminal penalty in U.S. history.
Additionally, the BBC reports that up to four BP staff may be arrested for their roles in the disaster. Details of the settlement are expected to be confirmed later today by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The previous record for a corporate criminal penalty was $1.2 billion, imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009.
While some wind developers have had a rocky year in their efforts to bring their brand of alternative energy onto the Western United States' energy grid, federal officials announced late on Oct. 12 that they want to streamline more solar development west of the Rockies.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled what he called a "roadmap that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands."
Specifically, Salazar wants to set aside 285,000 acres of public land for large-scale solar power plants.
But Idaho isn't part of Salazar's new "solar energy zones." Instead, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico were singled out for the streamlined effort.
Salazar said the new solar energy zones were chosen because they were near existing power lines, "allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities." Additionally, the sites had fewer environmental concerns—such as endangered species habitats—that have stalled other projects.
Californians can be expected to pay an average of $4.655 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline as of today.
That's according to AAA, which released new data Sunday showing California gas prices were the highest they've been in four years. Prices had climbed 4 cents since Saturday, Oct. 6.
In parts of Los Angeles, in the Hollywood and Beverly Hills areas, prices topped $5.25 per gallon.
The national average is around $3.81 a gallon, according to AAA, the highest ever for this time of year. October prices usually dip after the heavy-driving summer season, which may see that number plunge nationwide.