Wednesday, April 27, 2016

INL among labs presenting to FERC about grid modernization

Representatives from Idaho National Laboratory were among four groups that made presentations last Thursday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C., on grid modernization.

For a link to Kev Adjemian's report on energy storage, click here.

Announced in January, the Grid Modernization Initiative is an effort intended to set the United States on a cost-effective path for an integrated, secure, sustainable and reliable electric grid. As described in the Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, these projects focus on new concepts, tools, platforms, and technologies to better measure, analyze, predict, and control the grid of the future — one flexible enough to support a competitive national economy and an array of emerging services, while remaining affordable to consumers.

The initiative includes the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, a strategic partnership launched in 2014 between DOE and 14 of its national laboratories. This followed a 2012 White House report that said outages caused by severe weather typically cost the U.S. economy between $18 billion and $33 billion a year from lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and disruptions to energy distribution.

INL has been designated the lead laboratory on four projects that received DOE funding, and will collaborate with other national laboratories on 11 other projects. Although funding levels are subject to change, the work is expected to amount to roughly $10 million for INL through September 2018.

Thermo King opens Idaho Falls office

Thermo King Intermountain has opened a new shop in Idaho Falls. The company is the authorized distributor for the Thermo King Corp. in Idaho and Utah and has operated as a family business in the two states for over 40 years. with dealerships in Salt Lake City and Boise.

The business is owned by Ben Cluff, and Jim and Tim Pugh. For the past three years, they have had a mobile technician in Idaho Falls, so opening shop was the next logical move, said Lorin Croft, the office manager.   The shop is located just off the freeway and next to Love’s Truck Stop at 7011 South  45th West.

Thermo King sells and services transport refrigeration equipment and auxiliary power units to customers in the trucking and distribution industries. It also installs and services RedDOT off-road air conditioning systems for the agriculture/construction/mining industries – specializing in clean and comfortable cab environments for operators of heavy machinery.

Truck and trailer service and repairs will be part of the offerings that TKI will provide in Idaho Falls. For more information, call (208) 522-3099.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Panera Bread plans May 10 opening

Brandon Rolfe, Panera's new manager
Panera Bread on Hitt Road has planned its grand opening for May 10.

The store is being managed by Brandon Rolfe, an Idaho Falls area native who has managed the IHOP across the road for the past six years.

Rolfe said he knew nothing about St. Louis-based Panera Bread until he heard they were building here, in the old CD World building. Some online investigation prompted him to apply. “It’s been a great company to work for so far,” he said.

The new restaurant will employ roughly 70 people. Regular hours will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The company filed paperwork with the city of Idaho Falls in July 2015. This will be the fourth location in Idaho — others are in Boise, Nampa and Chubbuck, and two more are planned, in Twin Falls and Hayden.

“We’ve had great success in Chubbuck and we expect to do as well here,” Rolfe said. “The interest has been unbelievable.”

All the Panera stores in Idaho are company-owned. Worldwide, the split between franchise and company operations is roughly 50-50, a company spokeswoman said. With franchising, the development strategy calls for franchisees to open typically 15 bakery-cafes over a period of 6 years. They must have a proven track record as restaurant operators, net worth of $7.5 million and liquid assets of $3 million.

Panera Bread began on the East Coast in 1981 as Au Bon Pain Co. In 1993, Au Bon Pain purchased Saint Louis Bread Company, a chain of 20 bakery-cafes located in the St. Louis area. In 1999, all of Au Bon Pain's business units were sold except for Panera Bread, and the company was renamed Panera Bread.

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix-based company with more than 70 locations in 10 states, mainly in the west and southwest). The company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009. Since then, it has reach a market capitalization of $4.5 billion.

Panera Bread has been recognized as one of Business Week's "100 Hot Growth Companies" and the Wall Street Journal's Shareholder Scorecard in 2006 named it the top performer in the restaurant category for one-, five- and ten-year returns to shareholders.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Syringa building gone, car wash planned

New construction on Hitt Road, where a drive-thru car wash is going in.
Considering the thousands of people who drive by every day it should be common knowledge that the building at 2940 S. 25 East (Hitt Road) that was once home to Syringa is now gone and construction work is taking place on the site.

According to site plans at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department (which can now be viewed online at this site is to be Car Wash Express another drive-thru car wash owned by Matt Cardon, who built the one at Holmes Avenue and Northgate Mile.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Advertising Federation to hear from BYU-I presentation team

The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation’s Lunch and Learn this month will be Wednesday, April 27, a different day than the usual Thursday but the organizers are promising a program that is worth the disruption to schedule.

The guests will be the 2016 BYU-Idaho National Student Advertising Competition presentation team. The team is presenting its pitch this week at the District XI NSAC in Bozeman. Next week they’ll be on hand to tell how they fared and give the presentation to Ad Fed members.

The program is at 11:30 a.m. at Dixie’s Diner, 2150 Channing Way. Cost is $12  for IFAF members, $15 for non-members, and includes lunch.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tesla files plans for charging station in Idaho Falls

An artist's rendition of a Tesla supercharging station.
I do not know of anyone in Idaho Falls who owns a Tesla, but I have good news for whoever might. Elon Musk’s car company has filed site plans with the City of Idaho Falls Building Department to build a supercharging station at Snake River Landing, just north of MacKenzie River Pizza.

Going back over City Council minutes, it appears that the project was approved Dec. 17, 2015, at the council’s regular meeting.

And if there aren’t a lot of Tesla owners right now, the news is bound to be of interest to people in other parts of the country who plan to visit this summer.

Excluding tax credits, a 2015 Tesla Model S 70D had a base price of just over $76,000, including the $1,200 destination charge. Up one rung of the ladder, the rear­-wheel-­drive Model S 85 started at about $81,000, while the all­-wheel-­drive 85D cost another $5k.

For the high-­horsepower Model S P85D, expect to shell out about $106,000, and with all the options (if you’ve got this kind of money to spend on a car, you probably don’t care, right?) you'll be looking at a luxury electric vehicle of $131,000.

The new Model 3 has a base sticker price of $35,000, and Forbes reported Friday that orders were nearing 400,000. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2017, but much depends on the company getting its 6-million-square-foot battery factory in Nevada built in time. (Link from NPR: A Rare Look Inside The 'Gigafactory' Tesla Hopes Will Revolutionize Energy Use).

Depending on the model, a Tesla can go 215 to 270 miles on a full charge. In Idaho so far, there are charging stations in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls.

To charge an EV at home, the owner has to plug it in before going to bed. That’s because alternating current is being used. At a supercharging station it’s direct current that’s used, but it’s still not as fast as filling the tank and hitting the road. A charging session takes about half ­an ­hour, which is why Tesla puts its stations in locations where there are restaurants and stores nearby.

Last of all, a word of warning. If you own a Nissan Leaf, a Chevrolet Volt or any other EV you will not be able to charge it at a Tesla station. Nor will you be able to charge a Bolt, Chevy’s newest offering, which has a 200-mile range comparable to Tesla’s, a sticker price in the $30,000 range and is available now.

There are a lot of details to be worked out in the standardization of EV equipment. You might be surprised to know that a lot of the groundwork is being done right here in Idaho Falls, at the Idaho National Laboratory. President Obama even gave INL’s work on electric vehicles a shout out earlier this year during his weekly radio address.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tap-N-Fill plans May opening at Snake River Landing

Lovers of craft beer will have a new watering hole in May, Tap-N-Fill, a new growler-to-go business, which is opening in Snake River Landing.

Owners Susan and Jeff Gardner will open Idaho Falls’ first growler station next door to MacKenzie River Pizza, at 1494 Milligan Road, near the river and the Greenbelt Trail System in Snake River Landing.

They plan to offer a convenient location for beer fans to enjoy a large variety of craft beer straight from the tap for at-home or on-site consumption. Tap-N-Fill customers will be able to purchase a growler, typically a half-gallon container specifically designed for holding draft beer, or refill personal growlers from a selection of more than 40 taps. They will also have ciders, kombucha, taster trays to sample a variety of brews, and hope to offer mead as well.”

Operating hours will be Monday through Saturday from noon until 10 p.m.

NuScale announces roadmap for SMR operation at Idaho site by 2024

NuScale, which is developing a 50 MW small modular reactor, provided new details last week on the timeline to having a first-of-kind commercial unit in operation. A company spokesman presented a detailed roadmap for the deployment and a roadmap during a keynote address to the International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit, which took place last week in Atlanta.

Follow the link to read the story on the neutron blog:

NuScale announces roadmap for SMR operation at Idaho site by 2024

Thursday, April 14, 2016

EIRMC volunteer named national finalist for award

Jim Pletscher is many things — a veteran, philanthropist, and volunteer in Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

It is people like Pletscher that EIRMC is seeking to recognize during National Volunteer Week. Before and after shifts, he can be found cleaning up cigarettes butts in the parking lot, jump starting cars, or chatting with patients and staff.

Earlier this year, Pletscher was selected as one of the winners of EIRMC’s Frist Humanitarian Award. He went on to win that same honor the division level of EIRMC’s parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, and this week he was was notified that he was selected from over 165 nominations as one of the two national finalists for the Volunteer Frist Award.

This is the first time that EIRMC has had anyone recognized at the division or national level.
Here are some fast facts about the hospital’s volunteers:

  • There are 126 volunteers helping in 15 different areas.
  • In 2015 they donated more than 25,000 hours, which would amount to 12 full-time employees.
  • The average monthly hours donated was 2,100.
  • Shuttle drivers average 2,400 rides/month.

Overall, EIRMC volunteers employ professional skills as patient ambassadors, chaplains, and pet partner team members.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Garden Gate Nursery welcomes new generation

Rigby's Garden Gate Nursery
Garden Gate Nursery of Rigby is about to see a “changing of the guard,” as longtime owners Gary and Prudy Gneiting prepare for retirement.

The Gneitings were looking at closing up altogether when their son Alan and his wife, Krista, bother Rigby High School graduates, decided to return from Boulder City, Nev., to take over the family business.

Garden Gate Nursery dates back to 1966, when Blaine Lundquist built his first greenhouse. The business had changed hands twice when Prudy Gneiting stopped by in the spring of 1998 to buy some planting soil. She and her husband ended up buying the nursery and were also able to purchase property east of the nursery, where they expanded the greenhouse and added a modern storefront facing the Annis Highway.

It is the only nursery in Rigby and is a popular place in spring and early summer.

Former high school sweethearts who were married in 1996, Alan and Krista Gneiting have lived in Boulder City for the past eight years, where Alan was involved in mining and excavation. Gary and Prudy Gneiting have agreed to help with the nursery until their children have learned all aspects of the business.

For more information regarding Garden Gate Nursery, call (208) 760­0711 or visit the Web site,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Restaurant, convention center slated to reopen

An old postcard of the Westbank from the 1960s
While a name has yet to be determined, the old Westbank restaurant, lounge and convention center are scheduled to be reopened soon.

Joel Henry, who has been running Republic America Grill and Tapa Bar since the fall of 2013, has gone into partnership with Bruce Rahmani of Denver, Colo., whose company, Colorado Hospitality Services Inc. of Northglenn, Colo., bought the eight­-story tower in January 2015. The two are leasing the property from Dane Watkins, who locked everything up in late summer 2014 in a dispute with Om Shiv Ganesh, the financially troubled company running the tower and leasing the restaurant and convention center.

Henry said he is shooting to have the business open by June 1, but hopes to have the lounge open earlier. “It’s going to allow us to do all sorts of things,” he said.

Since moving into the convention center’s office, much of his time has been spent going through the files to gather information about people and organizations who have used the space for meetings, parties, receptions, etc. Since the convention center has been closed, the only place in Idaho Falls available for big functions has been the Shilo Inn.

Henry, 32, grew up in Traverse City, Mich., where he became executive chef of Poppycock's, a local restaurant, at age 21. He attended the Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I. "I believe in old­ school, no ­frills cooking," he said. No­ frills doesn't mean no imagination, however. "If you're not creative enough, there's no reason to be doing what you're doing," he said.

He plans to keep the Republic name for the new location, with tapas and small plate offerings. For the restaurant in front, however, he is debating between Italian or a steak­ and­ seafood. He also has plans to turn the building where the Republic is now into a delicatessen. “There are seven places to eat by the river right now, but they’re all sit­-down restaurants,” he said. “It would be nice to have a place where you could go in and get a sandwich.”

Overall, Henry is going to be spending more time in the office and less in the kitchen. At the various locations, he anticipates managing between 25 and 30 people.

“There’s a lot of moving parts, but we’re all in this together,” he said.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mayors' Business Day coming April 19

Todd Pedersen, founder of Vivint
There is a little more than a week before the Mayors’ Business Day, scheduled this year for April 19 at the Shilo Inn.

Hosted by the mayors of Idaho Falls and Ammon, the event began in 2008. This year features presentations and panel discussions on a variety of subjects, the theme is a “Talent Pipeline.” This refers to the reality that a lot of longtime skilled workers are going to be leaving their jobs in the next five to 10 years and that young, trained people are going to be needed to replace them if eastern Idaho’s economy is to keep moving forward.

The keynote speaker is Todd Pedersen, founder and CEO of Vivint, Inc., Pedersen started the company in 1999 as APX Alarm and built it into one of the largest residential security companies in North America. In 2010 he rebranded it to Vivint and launched an innovation center to create smart home products. Under Pedersen’s leadership, Vivint evolved from a dynamic startup into a smart home technology company with 9,000 employees and more than a million customers.

In 2012 it was acquired by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion. In 2013, Vivint was named to the Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies. In 2015, Vivint was one of 500 companies on the Forbes' list of America's Best Employers.

Pedersen went on to launch of Vivint Solar, which had a $1.1 billion IPO in 2014 and became the second largest residential solar power provider in the United States.

He was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 for the Utah Region. He was also named Utah's Entrepreneur of the Year by Mountain West Capital Network, voted one of Utah’s 10 Coolest Entrepreneurs by Utah Valley BusinessQ, and was inducted into the David Eccles School of Business Hall of Fame.

Tickets to the event are $60 for chamber members and $75 for non-members. For more information, visit

Friday, April 8, 2016

Melaleuca announces record-breaking sales in 2015

Melaleuca released its annual report for 2015 Thursday and, as expected, the company announced another record-setting year in 2015 with annual sales exceeding $1.33 billion.

Headquartered in Idaho Falls since the mid-1980s, the company has grown 40 percent in the last five years alone.

Its U.S. and Canadian operations continue to lead in volume. Melaleuca also saw particularly high growth in its Asian markets, especially China. There are now more than 1.2 million households purchasing Melaleuca products on a monthly basis across the 18 countries where it operates. Melaleuca has more "preferred customers" — meaning loyal customers who order consistently month-after-month-than at any point in its history.

"Melaleuca is experiencing an era of explosive growth. We expect that to continue," said Frank VanderSloot, the company’s CEO, in a news release. "We continue to gain momentum as people experience our products. I think it's safe to say that Melaleuca products are being discovered around the world."

VanderSloot said he expects continued growth in 2016. “We are getting better in all that we do. “Our management team is getting stronger. Our scientists are getting better. Our processes are getting smoother.”

INL seeks housing for summer interns

Idaho National Laboratory through its contractor, Battelle Energy Alliance, is seeking temporary housing options for summer interns. These are typically undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the country who come to work at the laboratory for approximately 10 to 16 weeks. Most INL interns receive a housing stipend to help pay rent.
Temporary housing criteria may include, but are not limited, to:

  • Furnished rooms or blocks of rooms
  • Furnished apartments
  • Ease of access to INL work locations in Idaho Falls and to the INL desert facilities
  • Availability between early May and late August
  • Clean, safe environment

To learn more – or to be considered for inclusion on the list of temporary housing options for interns – please send a description of the temporary housing and contact information to

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

INL researchers develop microgrids for diversity, reliability, resilience

INL researchers Kurt Myers, left, and Robert Turk inspect solar panels at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground.
This is the age of sharing, so in hopes of driving traffic to the Web site, I'm posting a link to an article I wrote that was posted today (yes, I wear many different hats.) It's about microgrids, renewable energy and the work that researchers at the lab are doing in those areas.

Having lived here for almost 34 years, it has been fascinating to watch the evolution of what was at the time called the INEL. In 1982, "the site" was about nuclear energy, the Navy, reactors, etc. The non-Navy work was done for essentially two clients, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the commercial nuclear power industry. Today, "the lab" is about nuclear energy, but also about such things as electric vehicles, microgrids, flow batteries, biomass conversion and cyber-security. Stories such as the one I'm sharing here are allowing me to wrap my head around the importance of what's really happening.

Anyway, here's the link:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Kneaders plans opening by end of July

Kneaders, a Utah-­based chain popular with many eastern Idahoans, has plans to open in Sand Creek Commons by the end of July this year, according to papers filed last week at the Ammon Building Department office.

The building permit filed March 30 shows plans for building of 4,214 square feet, with a kitchen and serving area of 2,226 square feet and a seating area of 1,618 square feet. Occupancy for the entire restaurant is 143. The estimated completion date entered was July 31.

Kneaders dates back to 1997, when it was founded by Gary and Colleen Worthington. It specializes in European hearth breads made from scratch on site daily, as well as gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and breakfast items. It also provides catering services for groups of all sizes, from birthday parties to weddings, and offers a variety of retail products including award-­winning gift baskets and holiday­-themed gifts.

So far, the company has 42 locations in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Idaho, where it opened its first store in Meridian. Like many chains, there is a mix of franchise operations and company­owned stores. The Ammon restaurant will be company owned.

Eric Isom, chief development officer of Ball Ventures, the co­-developer of Sand Creek
Commons, said that when courting tenants for their projects they have sought a lot of input from locals. Because so many people travel from eastern Idaho to Utah, there has been a lot of interest in Kneaders. “It’s been one of the most common requests in the last two or three years,” he said.

EIRMC recognized as Level II Trauma Center

The State of Idaho has recognized Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center as a Level II Trauma Center. The hospital had been working toward this goal for three years, and on Saturday it received a certificate recognizing its status.

"To be recognized as a trauma center you have to be either verified by the American College of Surgeons, which we have been since 2007, or state designated, which we recently became," said Brian O'Byrne, director of the trauma center.

A national verification as a Level II Trauma Center from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is considered to be the highest level of achievement for hospital-based programs.

Level II Trauma Centers provide patient with 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons, as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.

In 2010, EIRMC's Emergency Department received the Qualis Health Award of Excellence in Healthcare Quality for its work in improving the quality of healthcare and patient safety. O'Byrne also said, they will be able to reach first responders in rural areas of Idaho.

"What we will be able to do in the future is use this system to designate smaller facilities throughout the state, especially rural Idaho."

In addition, EIRMC is home to Air Idaho Rescue (AIR), a mini-fleet with helicopter, a turboprop airplane, and ground transport capabilities. AIR is one of just 136 nationally accredited air emergency transport services in the U.S.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Looking Back | April 1, 2016

Note: Looking Back appears in the Post Register every Thursday.

100 years ago
The Carnegie Library at the corner of Elm Street and North Eastern Avenue opened its doors March 30, 1916.

The event was the culmination of a project that dated back to 1905, when some public-spirited women in the community, led by Mrs. A.L. Campbell of the Village Improvement Society and Mrs. Dymae Jones, president of the Round Table Club, began corresponding with Andrew Carnegie's representatives, eventually securing a $10,000 grant.

Members of the library board, Mayor George Edgington, members of the City Council, Miss Lowry, the librarian, and her assistants, Misses Orr and Brown, stood in a receiving line, shaking hands and receiving congratulations from nearly 2,000.

The building served as Idaho Falls' public library until the mid-1970s. It is now part of the Museum of Idaho.

75 years ago
Idaho Falls resident David Rathbun offered 80 acres of land he owned in Colorado to the federal government, in hopes that a bulwark against Nazi Germany might be built if needed.

Rathbun said the land was "a few counties away" from 9,000 acres the Third Reich had claimed upon the death of its German-American owner. "My land is within easy range of the big guns," Rathbun wrote in a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt. "It would be no worse for the United States government to take the property than it was for Hitler to take it," the letter said.

50 years ago
Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians played to a sold-out Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium on March 31, 1966. Sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club, it was the ninth time the orchestra had come to Idaho Falls to play.

One of the highlights of the evening came before the final number of the show, when Kiwanis Club President Irv Hock and club member Fred Ochi presented Waring with a watercolor portrait Ochi had painted for the occasion.

25 years ago
Lynn Thomas of Dubois, his daughter, Lynette Rogers of Renton, Wash., and her two children, Nathan, 15, and Anna, 11, made a grisly discovery of human limbs in a cave near Dubois, on March 29, 1991. The family was exploring a cave near another cave that was still stocked with fallout shelter supplies.

The discovery was not entirely unexpected, as the explorers had been discussing a human torso found in the cave in August 1979. Clark County Sheriff Craig King said the limbs were probably the same person, but the case, most likely a homicide, would remain a mystery until a skull was found.