At Idaho Power, We’re About More than Electricity
By Chris Randolph
When you think about Idaho Power employees, who comes to mind? You probably think about the linemen you see every day repairing, upgrading and maintaining the wires and other equipment that keeps electricity flowing to your home or business. Maybe you think of our customer service professionals who answer when you call with a question about your bill or to change service.
With more than 2,000 employees across our 24,000-mile service area, we’re easy to find. But there’s a whole group of lesser-known Idaho Power employees out there working to protect and enhance wildlife habitat, increase recreational opportunities, improve your camping experience and make the fishing a little better.
If you live in southern Idaho or eastern Oregon, chances are good that folks in our environmental department have touched your life in some way. Here are a just a few things Idaho Power employees do beyond generating and delivering electricity.
Raptor protection: With hundreds of miles of power lines running through prime habitat for hawks and eagles, Idaho Power works to make sure our equipment is as safe as possible for these majestic and important birds. Our employees regularly patrol our power lines for signs that birds have been injured and proactively make these lines safe for raptors. We are an industry leader in protecting raptors from contact with electrical equipment.
Salmon and steelhead preservation: Idaho Power owns four hatcheries dedicated to raising Chinook salmon and steelhead and returning them to the Snake River.
Fish stocking: Each spring and fall, we put tens of thousands of rainbow trout at various locations along the Snake River for the benefit of anglers. We also stock catfish in Milner reservoir.
Fish sampling and monitoring: We conduct regular surveys of protected white sturgeon, tagging and releasing these iconic fish. We monitor their growth rates and reproduction levels and share information with wildlife management agencies to ensure their continued survival. We recently completed a survey of native bull trout in Hells Canyon. The data will help us manage habitat in that region.
Endangered snail monitoring: The Bliss Rapids snail and other mollusk species serve as food for other inhabitants of the river and as indicators of the overall health of the habitat. We conduct regular sampling of these federally protected species and take steps to make sure our operations don’t harm the population.
Parks and other recreational sites: Idaho Power owns and maintains more than 50 campgrounds, picnic shelters and boat ramps on the Snake River. We also staff the U.S. Forest Service’s Hells Canyon Visitors Center.
Why is the power company involved in these things? It’s who we are; it’s what we do. We care for the environment. Yes, the federal licenses that allow us to operate our hydro facilities from American Falls to Hells Canyon require us to provide recreational opportunities along the river, as well as monitor, protect, restore and enhance wildlife habitat impacted by our operations. Our dams produce clean, renewable power at a cost lower than any other resource in our portfolio. Maintaining those licenses is vital to keeping your electricity costs down.
We do it because the people that work in Idaho Power’s Environmental Affairs department care deeply about the river that provides electricity and supports farms, businesses and the unique way of life here on the Snake River Plain. Many of us are avid boaters, anglers and hikers. We are parents who enjoy watching our children land their first rainbow trout. We live and work in the communities the river supports just like you do, and we feel a special obligation to care for it.
So the next time you see one of our crews loading a boat, performing park maintenance or unloading trout into your favorite fishing hole, give us a wave. We’re your neighbors, and we’re here to keep the Snake River working for you.
Chris Randolph is Idaho Power’s Environmental Affairs Director