Ada County is joining the list of local governments and private energy providers moving toward clean electricity and energy.
On Tuesday, the Ada County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to power county operations with 100% clean and local electric energy in 2020 and to run the county on 100% clean energy by 2045.
Idaho Power, the state’s main energy supplier, committed to providing 100% clean electricity by 2045, while the city of Boise pushed its clean energy goal up by five years to 2035. Ada County’s decision to move to clean electricity next year is part of the county’s greater goal to transition to 100% clean energy in the next 25 years.
Clean power is produced by clean energy like solar power, hydropower and natural gas. Clean electricity is a subset of clean power, and as the name implies, means electricity produced by clean energy.
Commissioner Rick Visser noted the county had already been making more energy-efficient decisions in its day-to-day operations, including moving to LED light fixtures in county buildings.
Ada County has been producing clean energy for a long time. The county-owned Barber Dam on the Boise River has been producing hydroelectric energy for decades. More recently, the county has been using its landfills to capture and burn methane gas to create clean electricity.
According to county officials, the amount of energy by the methane and other gases being piped out of the landfills to be burned for electricity will exceed the county’s electricity needs in 2020 by 3 million kilowatt-hours. The county sells the gas to a third-party company that has the equipment needed to make electricity from the landfill-produced gas.
By burning “trash gas,” as Commissioner Diana Lachiondo called it, the county will be using fuel that would be flared off or otherwise unused.
“There’s been tremendous success with energy consumption,” Lachiondo said of the county’s attempts to go to all clean electricity. “We’re going to get it done with our own trash.”
Along with burning trash gas, Ada County’s plan to go clean by 2045 includes installing more renewable power projects at county buildings and looking for opportunities to be more energy efficient in operations and transportation. But by next year, trash will be keeping the lights on in Ada County.
Commissioners signed the clean energy resolution Thursday at the county’s annual Energy Plan Partnership meeting.