Businesses in Idaho are able to design a renewable energy portfolio to fit their needs, thanks to Idaho Power’s Large Renewable Energy Purchase Option Program. Businesses that demonstrate an interest in clean energy can purchase credits linked to Idaho Power’s investments in solar, wind, and hydropower.
Launched in 2017, the program requires companies to purchase a minimum of 750-megawatt hours per year. According to Idaho Power, the purchase includes “Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) products supported by local wind, solar and geothermal projects.” Participating businesses can boast that 100 percent of their energy comes from renewable sources.
Three major Idaho businesses are now on board: the Boise Co-Op, the Bogus Basin ski area, and Obendorf Farms, a family-owned, third-generation producer of fine hops, blueberries, and onions. The Obendorfs in particular are proud to support clean energy in their home state. “It’s a good way to give back to the environment,” says Phil Obendorf, a co-owner of the farm along with his brother, Brock. “Obviously the operation is reliant on the environment that we’re given. And so, to be able to sustain that is very important for me personally, plus our operation strives for that.”
For over 70 years, the Obendorf family has served as excellent stewards of their far west Idaho land, just over 40 miles west of Boise. The farm has grown to include 1200 acres of row crops and 800 head of cattle, but it’s their superior quality hops that drive the majority of their business. The Obendorfs grow 15 varieties of hops on over 3500 acres – that’s enough hops for 500 million craft beers.
Respect for the environment and quality farming standards are family traditions that have been passed down through the generations. Aside from their participation in the Idaho Power clean energy program, the Obendorfs have taken other steps to reduce their impact on the surrounding land. Hops are hauled with clean-burning propane trucks, and crops are watered using a state-of-the-art drip irrigation system that saves water and energy. The owners also plan to install rooftop solar panels on select buildings within the next five years.
“Obendorf Farms’ commitment to clean energy aligns with its history of reducing its environmental impact through measures like cover crops to stabilize the soil and energy efficiency upgrades to its current system,” said Sven Berg, an Idaho Power spokesman. “It also aligns with Idaho Power’s own goal of providing 100 percent clean energy by 2045 without compromising their tradition of reliability and affordability.”
According to a YouTube video from Idaho Power, Obendorf Farms will buy 3,000-megawatt hours of renewable energy every year, an amount that’s equivalent to taking 450 cars off the road or planting 34,000 trees. Brock sees the decision to purchase renewable energy as an investment in the farm’s future. “I think it’s more just how we need to operate in this day and age. If you’re not on top of that…you’re probably not going to be sustainable in the future.”