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Exploring Idaho’s Energy Landscape: A Deep Dive with Jason Laney of IDL

At the March Idaho Energy Freedom Advisory Council meeting, Jason Laney, Leasing Section Manager (Agriculture, Minerals, Alternative Energy, and Commercial) at Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), presented about his department’s mission and how it ties in with the energy sector, and its ongoing initiatives. 

IDL manages about 2.5 million acres of endowment land for maximum long-term financial returns, primarily to benefit the state’s public schools. Governed by the Idaho Constitution and statutes, IDL operates under the guidance of the State Board of Land Commissioners, which includes Idaho’s Governor Brad Little, Secretary of State Phil McGrane, Attorney General Raúl Labrador, Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, and State Controller Brandon Woolf.

The IDL’s Role in Energy and Land Management

IDL primarily generates revenue through timber sales but also engages in leasing activities across various sectors, including grazing, mining, communication sites, and commercial sites, Laney explained. The department also plays a pivotal role in fighting wildfire, with responsibility of firefighting protection and suppression for 9.6 million areas of state, private and federal lands.

Engaging in the energy sector is a newer opportunity of IDL’s Leasing Section. With a growing market for wind, solar, and geothermal projects across Idaho, Laney is now guiding his team toward understanding energy leasing and future prospects. With one operational energy lease and several others in the pipeline, Laney highlighted the potential for substantial revenue generation, especially from underperforming assets. One active lease is Appaloosa Wind and Solar in Elmore County, on over 1,000 acres of endowment land, most of the turbines and any solar facilities will be on private land, Laney said. He also regularly talks with PacificCorp about how the state can support integrating their renewable energy resources. 

In Idaho, the public perception of the federal government in general, particularly around clean energy and skepticism around any kind of federal dollars, underscores the need for informed discourse and collaborative advocacy like that which IEF engages. Those in attendance shared their views about how lobbying and industry can be more engaged in shaping clean energy policies that advance the sector, instead of holding it back. 

“I hope the work that you are doing will help Idahoans see the potential of some of these projects and help them have more open minds toward them,” Laney told the council after his presentation. “I think that’s one of the biggest challenges we are facing right now is public perception.”

In April, IEF’s Advisory Council will welcome Emily Her, program manager at Governor Little’s Office of Energy and Minerals to discuss the 2024 Energy Landscape Report. 

Stay tuned here for more updates and insights as Idaho’s energy journey unfolds, shaping the state’s future landscape and contributing to broader sustainability goals.

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