History / Public Power
Idaho Falls was the first city in Idaho with its own electric power plant. That was in 1900. Today, more than a century later, Idaho Falls Power is continuing to build on that early vision to harness the energy from the Snake River and deliver power to residents.
Over the years, power plants have been added, destroyed, replaced, and upgraded. This has all been made possible by voters who understood the value of having a municipally owned utility with its own generating capacity. The citizens of Idaho Falls have passed several bonds to pay for construction of hydroelectric projects. As a result, they have been paid back with low electricity rates.
What is Public Power?
Community-owned public utilities power homes and businesses in 2,000 communities – from small town to large cities. They safely provide reliable, low-cost electricity to more than 49 million Americans.
Idaho Falls Power is proud to be among the public power utilities nationwide that support local commerce, employ 93,000 people in hometown jobs, and invest $2 billion annually directly back into their communities.
Public power utilities are not-for-profit entities that provide electricity at the lowest rates. Homes powered by these utilities pay nearly 15 percent less than homes powered by private utilities. Businesses that get electricity from these community-owned utilities pay less than businesses that get electricity from private utilities.
Customers of public power utilities lose power less often. Customers of a public power utility are likely to be without power for just 59 minutes a year, compared to customers of private utilities that may lose power for 133 minutes a year – provided there are no major adverse events.
Public power generates 10 percent of all electricity in the U.S. and distributes – or sells at the retail level – 15 percent of all power flowing to homes and businesses. Public power utilities buy or generate electricity from natural gas, coal, and nuclear, as well as renewable energy sources such as solar, water, and wind.
In several regions, public power utilities – including Idaho Falls Power – can buy wholesale hydropower generated from federal dams at cost and pass the savings on to customers. Across the country, public power utilities buy wholesale electricity and other services through joint action agencies to leverage economies of scale and strength in numbers.
When customers are the utility’s shareholders, serving the community is the utility’s top priority.
Public power utilities are embedded into the fabric of their communities and support a range of community programs including charitable, educational, and beautification programs. Each dollar of a public power utility employee’s paycheck circulates through the community an estimated five times. On average, public power utilities pay 5.6 percent of electric operating revenues back to the community — through taxes, fees, and special services. Public power gives 33 percent more back to the community than private utilities.
Idaho Falls Power is governed by the locally elected power board (Idaho Falls City Council).
The members of the power board include:
- Rebecca Casper
- Michelle Ziel-Dingman
- Tom Hally
- Jim Freeman
- Lisa Burtenshaw
- Jim Francis
- John Radford
Community citizens have a direct voice in utility decisions and policymaking. Business is conducted in the open and citizens know where their power comes from and how and why decisions affecting their utility bills are made. The power board meets generally the 4th Thursday of every month.