Funding Drained for Energy Office
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s energy office is running out of money because royalties from federal geothermal leases haven’t materialized and federal stimulus cash is drying up. Among possibilities in discussion to cover the Office of Energy Resources’ expenses: A surcharge on Idaho utility customers’ power bills. Director John Chatburn was told by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to pursue other funding options, given geothermal leases have fallen well short of expectations. As funding questions remain unresolved, lawmakers say the agency is facing some existential questions and must redefine its role in helping guide Idaho’s energy future. Rep. George Eskridge, the Republican co-chairman of the Idaho Legislature’s Energy, Environment & Technology interim committee, says Idaho should seriously scrutinize whether the office should continue. He said lawmakers are unlikely to award it general taxpayer funds.