Idaho is vulnerable to increasing heat, reduced snowpack and wildfires
Idaho’s climate has warmed one to two degrees Fahrenheit over the past century. Snowpack is melting earlier in the year, reducing the flow of meltwater in streams during the summer. In addition to reduced flow, streams are becoming warmer, threatening to reduce fish populations.
- Increasing temperatures: Extreme heat will increase in the Northwest region. The Northwest will go from experiencing just 5 days of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above temperatures on average per year to an additional 7-15 days of extreme heat by mid-century and an additional 18-42 days by the end of the century.
- Reduced Snowpack: Much of the water used in Idaho for personal, commercial, and agricultural use comes from mountain snowpack. Rising temperatures are causing snowpack to melt earlier in the year. By 2050, snowmelt is projected to shift three to four weeks earlier than the last century’s average, reducing flows during the summers. This will put pressure on the electricity system which is based largely on hydro generation, especially during summer months which will see an increasing demand for cooling and irrigation.
- Wildfires: By the end of the century, climate change is projected to double the area of land burned by forest fires during an average year.
- Adaptation: Idaho has not developed a statewide climate adaptation plan.
Idaho residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 65% of Idaho residents recognize that global warming is happening. The study finds that 75% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 82% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Idaho is rich in renewable energy resources
- From geothermal, to hydro, to wind and solar, Idaho is rich in renewable energy resources.
- Hydroelectric power provided 54% of the net electricity generation in Idaho in 2015, the fourth largest share in the nation. Drought reduced hydropower’s share of electricity from the average 74% of the previous 10 years.
- In 2015, 75% of Idaho’s utility-scale net electricity generation came from renewable energy. Further, Idaho tied with West Virginia for the 6th lowest electricity prices in the US.
- Idaho ranks 20th in the US for installed wind capacity, providing 15% of its net electricity generation. Idaho has 973 MW of installed wind capacity, enough to power 224,000 homes. Idaho is home to three active turbine manufacturing facilities and employs 500-1000 people in the industry all around.
- Idaho ranks 21st in the country in installed solar with 233 MW of solar capacity, enough to power 29,000 homes. There are currently 48 solar companies working throughout the value chain in the state, employing 611 people.
- The state of Idaho has not set any state targets for electricity generation or a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).