Idaho gets vast majority of electricity from renewables, almost half from hydropower

BOISE - More than 80% of Idaho’s in-state utility-scale electricity generation came from renewable resources in 2018, behind only Vermont, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly.

Idaho generated 17.4 million MWh of electricity in 2018, of which 14.2 million MWh came from renewable sources. Idaho uses a variety of renewable resources to generate electricity:

Hydroelectricity. Idaho ranked seventh in the U.S. in electricity generation from hydropower in 2018. About half of Idaho’s electricity generating capacity is at hydroelectric power plants and seven of the state’s 10 largest power plants (in terms of electricity generation) are hydroelectric facilities. The largest privately owned hydroelectric generating facility in the U.S. is a three-dam complex on the Snake River in Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America.

Wind. Nearly one-fifth of Idaho’s electricity generating capacity and one-sixth of its generation comes from wind turbines. Idaho has substantial wind energy potential, although only a small percentage of the state's land area is well-suited for wind development. All of the state’s wind farms are located in the southern half of the state along the Snake River Plain.

Solar. Almost 5% of Idaho’s electricity generating capacity and 3% of its generation come from utility-scale solar facilities. The state had no utility-scale solar generation as recently as 2015. Between 2016 and 2017, Idaho’s utility-scale capacity doubled and generation increased from 30,000 MWh to more than 450,000 MWh. Idaho’s small-scale solar capacity also doubled since 2017, generating 33,000 MWh in 2018.

Biomass. Biomass-fueled power plants account for about 2% of the state’s utility-scale electricity generating capacity and 3% of its generation. Wood waste from the state’s forests is the primary fuel for these plants.

Geothermal. Idaho is one of seven states with utility-scale geothermal electricity generation. Idaho has one 18-MW geothermal facility, located near the state’s southern border with Utah.

EIA says Idaho requires significant electricity imports, totaling about one-third of demand, to meet its electricity needs. However, Idaho’s electricity imports have decreased over time. Almost all of these imports are from neighboring states, as electricity imports from Canada accounted for less than 0.1% of Idaho’s total electricity supply in 2017.


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