Friday, December 28, 2018

Power positions announced for Idaho Falls utility director, city councilman

Bear Prairie
Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power, has been elected to serve as chairman of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), and City Councilman John Radford has been appointed as a member of the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Policy Makers Council. Both will serve three year terms.

Prairie was elected by the representatives of the 34 participating UAMPS utilities and will serve as chair of the project committee that represents UAMPS participation in NuScale Power's small modular reactor (SMR) proposed for development on Idaho National Laboratory land west of Idaho Falls.

“This is an important time for Idaho Falls Power and for UAMPS,” he said. “The project is very important for us to be able to maintain our low-cost, carbon-free energy portfolio, not to mention what it means for SMR development and the nation’s ability to supply power clean, affordable energy throughout the world.”

John Radford
The committee leads the effort to oversee the SMR project as it relates to meeting key milestones for the project timeline and cost competitiveness with other generation resources, as well as key targets for success.  The committee ultimately determines whether or not UAMPS and its members proceed with participation in the project.

Radford, who sits on the Idaho Falls Power board, was selected by the APPA to serve on the Policy Maker’s Council (PMC), which is made up of 45 locally elected and appointed officials from public power entities across the country.

In this capacity, Radford will assist the APPA in promoting legislation that is important to public power communities across the nation. He will assist the PMC and APPA with legislative issues by attending key meetings for the group in Washington, D.C. along with representing and championing the value of locally owned power utilities at the federal level.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Councilman Radford to represent Idaho Falls on the PMC,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper.  “John has worked very closely with Idaho Falls Power as their council liaison and will do an excellent job representing our city and region with the APPA.”

Blue Phoenix, Artcore Visual Studio announce merger

Blue Phoenix Branding, an eastern Idaho-based promotion and branding company, has merged with  Artcore Visual Studio, an Idaho Falls company that offers branding and logo development, print collateral, and commercial photography.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Artcore Visual Studio for several years and am confident that our clients will love the exceptional design and marketing skills of their team led by creative director Dayne Dingman,” said Travis Powell, Blue Phoenix Branding's owner.

Artcore's branding clients have included Teton Toyota, Eastern Idaho Public Health, and the Rex & Tiffany Redden Foundation. Before starting the company, Dingman worked for Harris Publishing, where he designed publications for nearly 10 years and led the rebranding of Idaho Falls Magazine. “I’m excited to combine Travis’s undeniable skill in promotional product marketing and apparel with my passion for helping businesses succeed,” he said.

Blue Phoenix Branding has also added Michelle Ziel-Dingman as its new vice president of operations & marketing. Ziel-Dingman’s prior marketing experience has included Grand Teton Mall, Snake River Landing, and most recently FinFun. She also served as the executive director of the EITC Foundation (now the CEI Foundation) and as Artcore Visual Studio's CEO. “Blue Phoenix Branding is client-focused and poised to be the region’s premier branding firm, driven by top-notch customer service and unique marketing strategies that translate to our clients’ bottom lines,” she said.

Blue Phoenix Branding is a franchise of Proforma, an award-winning network of over 700 member offices providing printing, promotional products, eCommerce, marketing and packaging to approximately 60,000 clients around the globe. To learn more, visit BluePhoenixBranding.com. To learn more, visit BluePhoenixBranding.com.

Friday, December 21, 2018

DOE, UAMPS and Battelle Energy Alliance announce memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor project

Multiple NuScale small modular reactors could make up a plant (Image: NuScale)
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a memorandum of understanding between itself, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) concerning a small modular reactor project planned for Idaho National Laboratory.

Announced Friday, the memorandum highlights DOE-NE's intent to use two of the modules in UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), envisioned for construction at INL in the mid-2020s.

The plan announced in the MOU is for one of the 60-megawatt modules to be designated as strictly for research activities (referred to as the Joint Use Modular Plant or JUMP program). The research is expected to focus on integrated energy systems that support the production of both electricity and non-electric energy products such as process heat.

“This agreement will allow DOE to meet its needs in the form of resilient power to a national security mission-based lab while drawing from our nation’s newest class of advanced reactors,” said Ed McGinnis, DOE-NE principal deputy assistant secretary. “The JUMP program provides a unique opportunity for the nation’s leading nuclear laboratory to conduct nuclear energy research and contribute to the successful commercialization of the nation’s first SMR.”

The other module may be used in a power purchase agreement with Idaho Power to provide electricity to INL's operations west of Idaho Falls. INL forecasts needing up to 70 megawatts of electricity between 2025 and 2030. Idaho Power currently supplies electricity to the site through its Scoville substation.

Design plans for the project are being reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which in January ruled that the novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power. Currently, all nuclear plants in the U.S. are required to have class 1E power supplies to ensure safety. In its safety evaluation report, NRC approved NuScale Power’s “Safety Classification of Passive Nuclear Power Plant Electrical Systems” Licensing Topical Report, in which the company detailed how its design can be safe without reliance on safety-related electrical power.

For more information, visit FAQ: What is the Carbon Free Power Project?.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

GIFAR names Chris Pelkola Lee Realtor of the Year

Chris Pelkola Lee
The Greater Idaho Falls Association of Realtors has named Chris Pelkola Lee of simpLEE HOME  as its Realtor of the Year for 2018. The award recognizes those who have served not only the real estate profession but also their communities. Qualifications include business and educational accomplishments, community spirit and leadership.

Originally from the Chicago area, Lee has been selling real estate in the Idaho Falls area since 2007, specializing is residential properties. After living and working in Manhattan, she was attracted to eastern Idaho by the slower pace of life and affordability, but most of all by the opportunities for outdoor recreation.

"I’ve come to find I have become quite passionate about guiding my clients through the transaction process and helping them avoid potential pitfalls and inherent risks along the way – both in the product and the process," she said. "My role is as a guide, trusted advisor and negotiator."

The association has also named its Affiliate of the Year for 2018, recognizing one affiliate member who has given exceptional service to the organization. The honor this year goes to Stephanie Hay of Idaho Central Credit Union.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Eastern Idaho company gets highlighted in Reuters labor market story

Sean Luangrath, CEO of Inergy Solar, outside the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls. (Photo Reuters/Ann Saphir)
It looks like eastern Idaho is getting some international exposure, with a Dec. 8 story by Reuters News Service highlighting Inergy Solar of Pocatello.  Here's the link: Red-hot U.S. jobs market drives some to seek cooler options.

To summarize, the company's CEO, Sean Luangrath, was looking at moving his operations to Salt Lake City, but decided to stay in Pocatello because of the local workforce and nearby expertise at Idaho National Laboratory.

Inergy makes portable solar energy collection and storage systems. Its best-selling home system, the 1,100-watt-hour Kodiak, measures 14 inches by 7 inches by 8 inches and weighs less than 20 pounds. After two hours of charging with solar panels, the unit has enough power stored to keep a refrigerator running for 30 hours.

In 2017 the company received technical assistance from INL battery researchers. To learn more about that, follow this link: https://www.inl.gov/article/tech-assistance-program/ .

Monday, December 3, 2018

Smokin Fins opening set for today in downtown Idaho Falls

The kitchen at Smokin Fins, downtown Idaho Falls' newest restaurant, which officially opens today.
There is nothing like a new restaurant to start off the holiday season, and in Idaho Falls today all eyes are likely to be on Smokin Fins Grill, which officially opens at 11 a.m. today in the multi-million-dollar Broadway complex at Memorial Drive and Broadway. Training has been going on for the past month and, judging by the Facebook page, a soft opening happened this past weekend. A grand opening will be announced later.

Created by Fins Concepts out of Meridian, the first Smokin Fins debuted in 2015 in Littleton, Colo., before launching in Fort Collins and Chandler, Ariz. A sibling restaurant, Lucky Fins Seafood Grill, has been open in Greely, Colo., since 2015.

In Idaho Falls, Smokin Fins represents the first opening in The Broadway, which will also be home to Lucy’s New York Style Pizza, as well as other retail tenants.

The menu features shareable plates such as pork shank wings, Key lime calamari, and lobster tater tots, plus, a full range of popular sushi rolls, steak and seafood tacos, poke bowls and heartier entrees including a baked lobster mac and cheese, the Berkshire pork osso buco and a seafood paella. The restaurant also offers a kids’ menu and happy hour deals on sushi and tacos.

The menu for all six locations is the work of Chef Wiley, whose recipe features internationally acclaimed restaurants Nobu and Nygard Cay. According to the company’s website, every Fins brand of restaurant focuses on building relationships within its community, from hosting local business meetings, school fundraiser participation, donations and support for local non-profit organizations.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fall River Electric Co-op hosting 'Stuff the Truck' food drives

Fall River Electric Cooperative will be hosting several holiday food drives called “Stuff the Truck” throughout its service territory this holiday season. Each event will benefit the local food bank where the drive is being held. In addition to non-perishable food items, our local food banks are especially in need of pasta, cold cereal, peanut butter and canned fruit and chicken.

“Stuff the Truck” will be held at Broulim’s Fresh Foods in Rexburg on Dec. 7 from noon to
4 p.m. Donations made there will be given to Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership for
families in need in the Rexburg and Sugar City areas.

If you are unable to attend this food drive, you can call Fall River Electric at 800.632.5726 and
make a tax-deductible monetary contribution to the food bank of your choice. Office hours are
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rexburg Startup Weekend starts Thursday

There is still time to sign up for Startup Weekend, a 54-hour entrepreneur workshop hosted by the city of Rexburg, which starts Thursday at the Madison Business Incubator, 35 N. 1st East. The workshop's purpose is to help entrepreneurs pursue business ideas with help from business mentors and experts.

“The Startup Weekend has helped start four tech companies here in Rexburg,” Daniel Torres, Rexburg’s assistant economic director, said in a news release. “With the help of local experts and great mentors, we have seen business ideas go from just an idea, to a real business making money almost overnight. It is an incredible opportunity for the community.”

The three-day event starts Friday with a dinner and networking event. Participants will pitch their business ideas and they will form teams around the most popular ideas. Teams then develop business models based on the ideas, with help from mentors, throughout the remaining two days.

Judges will award prizes to the best business models, after a presentation from each team, on Saturday, the final day of the event.

Startup Weekend tickets are $25 between now and Thursday. For people who do not want to participate in the event but want to watch the final presentation of business ideas on Saturday, tickets are available for $5.
For information, visit startupweekendrexburg.com.

Monday, November 19, 2018

INL takes four R&D 100 Awards at annual banquet

ACT Film, developed by RedWave Energy from Idaho National Laboratory research, uses tiny nano-rectennas embedded in flexible plastic sheets that can be applied nearly anywhere to transform low-temperature industrial waste heat into electricity.
Idaho National Laboratory received four R&D 100 awards at the annual banquet, held Friday night in Orlando, Fla.

Since they were started by R&D Magazine in 1963, R&D 100 Awards have identified and celebrated the top technology products from the public and private sectors. The U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories typically have dozens of finalists every year. This year, there were 60 finalists from 13 national labs, with 11 coming from INL.

Researchers Todd Vollmer, Craig Rieger and Milos Manic won with Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS), an artificial intelligence breakthrough that can protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from devastating cyberattack. AICS works autonomously to give industries the power to quickly identify and divert hackers, using machine learning to identify and map industrial control systems. It can identify anomalous network traffic, alert operators and deploy virtual decoys to slow or halt hacking attempts. Following installation on an industrial control system and an initial learning phase, AICS automatically updates what it knows about a control system, adapting and remapping as it goes. AICS sets up and continually updates decoy virtual hosts – honeypots – to distract attackers from targets, giving asset owners the ability and time to gather information that can help identify both a hacking threat and a potentially compromised system.

INL received co-developer credit with RedWave Energy for Antenna Coupled Thz (ACT) Film, capable of harvesting low-temperature waste heat at power plants. Each sheet of ACT Film is made of tiny, square, gold-wire rectennas embedded in polyethylene, plastic sheeting that can be used nearly anywhere. The ACT Film absorbs heat between 70 and 250 degrees Celsius and converts it to electricity. Conceivably, composite stacks of ACT Film could be engineered to be compatible with existing power plant designs and used to replace cooling towers. By recovering 20 percent of low-temperature waste heat at a typical power plant, the electricity generated would equal the amount produced by burning 112,000 tons of coal in a year.

Researchers Gus Caffrey, Kenneth Krebs and Jayson Wharton received a Special Recognition Award (Corporate Social Responsibility) for On-Site Inspection RadioIsotopic Spectroscopy (OSIRIS), a portable, rugged gamma ray spectroscopy and laptop computer system for nuclear explosion detection that can be taken anywhere in the world to perform precise on-site inspections. Since the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, the vision has been that all nations would one day eventually ratify it to guarantee the world’s collective safety and security with regard to nuclear weapons. The world is still waiting for full ratification, but when that happens – as millions hope it will – there will be a need for advanced tools to ensure compliance with treaty obligations. To satisfy the security concerns of treaty signatories – various countries may disagree about which radioisotopes at a test site raise security concerns – OSIRIS uses a “data filter” to limit the information it collects to 17 fission-product radioisotopes agreed upon by international technical experts.
OSIRIS is a portable, rugged gamma ray spectroscopy and computer system that can be used for nuclear explosion detection nearly anywhere across the globe without revealing sensitive information.
Jack Law, Troy Garn and Mitchell Greenhalgh with Steve Hammon of Global Phosphate Solutions received a Green Tech Special Recognition Award for their Phosphate Sponge, which provides an environmentally safe solution for remediating freshwater algae blooms caused by phosphate pollution from sewage treatment plants, animal feeding operations and fertilizer runoff. Filled with a proprietary powder developed by Rocky Mountain Scientific Corp., the beads in the Phosphate Sponge are made of an INL-developed sorbent material. When contaminated water is passed through a column or bed containing the beads, contaminants are absorbed by ion exchange. This reduces phosphate levels in water to merely a few parts per billion, sometimes even nondetectable levels. Like a sponge, the beads can also be “wrung out” and reused indefinitely, and the phosphates extruded from the beads can be recycled as fertilizer feedstock ingredients.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

INL awards Versatile Test Reactor subcontract to GE Hitachi Nuclear

An artist's rendition of what the PRISM reactor might look like.
Idaho National Laboratory has awarded a subcontract to GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to support the conceptual design, cost/schedule estimate and safety framework activities for a proposed fast spectrum Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), critical for the development of innovative nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation and sensors.

The subcontract is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s Versatile Test Reactor program, which is investigating what it would take to establish a reactor-based fast-spectrum neutron irradiation capability in the United States by 2026.

Within the INL-led VTR team, engineers from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will adapt the company’s (http://gehitachiprism.com/) sodium-cooled nuclear reactor design to the needs of a test reactor for state-of-the art research and development purposes.

“To meet our aggressive schedule for establishing this much-needed capability in the United States, it is necessary to leverage an existing and mature sodium-cooled fast reactor design that can be modified to meet the needs of a versatile test reactor,” said INL’s Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, the executive director of VTR. “Having a timely and detailed conceptual design is critical to generating an accurate cost and schedule estimate, which will then be key to DOE’s decision on whether to move forward in 2020.”

Establishing a fast spectrum test reactor ensures continued U.S. technology leadership in nuclear energy innovation. Currently, only a few capabilities are available for testing fast neutron reactor technology in the world and none in the U.S.

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy established the VTR program earlier this year in response to reports outlining the need for a fast spectrum test reactor, including one issued by the agency’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC) in 2017. In that report, NEAC recommended “that DOE-NE proceed immediately with pre-conceptual design planning activities to support a new test reactor (including cost and schedule estimates).”

The recommendation, in part, was based on responses from U.S. companies developing advanced reactors, many of which require different testing facilities than the commercial nuclear power technology in use today.

Also recently, Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S.97) highlighted the need for a reactor-based fast neutron source authorizing DOE to proceed with the relevant activities.

“The VTR is a vital and strategic project for the U.S. and its promising advanced reactor industry, and we applaud the administration and Congress for making this technology a priority,” said Jay Wileman, GEH President and CEO. “Our VTR project team combines GEH’s strength as a nuclear plant vendor, service provider and nuclear fuel fabricator with Bechtel’s strength in nuclear project management, engineering, procurement and construction. The mature PRISM technology is ideally suited to meet the VTR mission needs.”

“The U.S. currently has no capability to test these fuels and materials,” said Peggy McCullough, a Bechtel senior vice president and general manager of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Operations business line. “Advanced reactors hold great promise but their components need the proper testing before they can be licensed and used in energy-producing reactors. That’s what the Versatile Test Reactor will provide. It’s extremely important for the science community, industry, regulators, and the future of nuclear energy research.”

Building on the proven principles of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, an integral sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype that was operated successfully for more than 30 years by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Idaho, PRISM is the only sodium-cooled reactor to have successfully completed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) pre-application review process. The PRISM Probabilistic Risk Assessment, developed with ANL in 2016, provided a validation of the advanced reactor’s safety.
Now at what is called the INL Materials & Fuels Complex, Experimental Breeder Reactor-II was operated by Argonne National Laboratory west of Idaho Falls from 1961 to 1994. 
For those of you who might be interested, here are a few more links about VTR:

A Versatile Way to Grow Advanced Nuclear Power (Clearpath.org)
Should The U.S. Build A Fast Nuclear Test Reactor Or Continue To Be Beholden To Russia? (Forbes.com)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rexburg Motorsports hosting "Stuff the Side-by-Side" food drive for EICAP

Rexburg Motorsports is looking to give back to families in need in their community with its Stuff the Side-by-Side Food Drive. The event runs from 2 until 4 p.m. Saturday, November 17, outside Broulim's in Rexburg. To support the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP) Rexburg Outreach Office, Rexburg Motorsports is looking for donations of new and unopened food and household items to stuff a Honda Pioneer Side x Side with a half ton of food.

The Rexburg Outreach Office is seeking donations for the following unexpired items: canned chicken, canned fruit, cereals, soups, laundry soap, dishwasher soap, cleaning supplies, and various hygiene items.

The Honda Pioneer is equipped to hold up to 1,000 pounds of donations in the seats, bed, and storage compartments. Rexburg Motorsports is hoping the vehicle's capacity will be exceeded before the event concludes.

To donate, simply stop by the Broulim’s in Rexburg between 2 and 4 p.m. and place your donations in the side-by-side parked outside the store. All donations received will be housed in the food bank in Rexburg and be distributed to families in need in the Madison County area. “We're always looking for ways to help out the community,” said Mike Vickers, Owner of Rexburg Motorsports. "This seemed like a fun way to accomplish that, and to encourage others to get involved."

For further questions or information regarding the food drive or Rexburg Motorsports in general, contact, Matt Dyer, at 208-356-4000 or via email at mdyer@gearhead.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

INL employees selected for competitive DOE Project Leadership Institute

Two Idaho National Laboratory employees have been selected for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Project Leadership Institute (PLI) 2019 cohort. Sadie Butler and Brad Cole, INL project managers, were selected for the highly competitive program, designed to develop a future generation of successful DOE project managers.

Only accepting 20 to 25 new students each year, PLI focuses on four main learning objectives: strategic thinking and analysis, organization and general management skills, team building, and communications.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our project managers,” said Juan Alvarez, deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operating officer. “It gives them a chance to learn from best of the best while also getting to network across DOE’s vast network of project managers and leaders.”

Over the course of a year, participants will attend five in-person sessions in various locations, complete an online course during the summer, and produce a capstone project. The content is intended as both a leadership development and skill development course, with subject matter tailored to the DOE environment.

This isn’t the first time INL employees have been accepted to PLI. In fact, INL has had an employee in every cohort in PLI’s three-year history. Brady Orchard was one of those previous attendees and found the experience valuable. “PLI helped me to better understand my leadership qualities and how to improve my personal performance,” Orchard said. “I was able to immediately apply what I learned at PLI into my work at INL.” Matthew Hammond is a member of the second cohort and will complete his PLI coursework in December.

The 2019 cohort will begin work in January and finish the program in December.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Firehouse Subs files for Idaho Falls building permit

The Hook and Ladder, Firehouse Subs' top-selling sandwich
Firehouse Subs has filed for a permit with the city of Idaho Falls Building Department for an 1,875-square-foot project at 435 South Utah Ave., in the Railway Crossings center. The franchisee is listed Chris Morris of Idaho Falls, and the owner is listed on the permit as MCMM Utah LLC.

This would be the fifth Firehouse Subs in Idaho. Other locations listed on its website are in Boise, Meridian, Couer d’Alene and Pocatello.

The chain dates back to 1994, when brother Chris and Robin Sorensen, both firefighters, opened their first restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla. Since then, Firehouse Subs has opened more than 1,135 restaurants across 44 states and Puerto Rico, and internationally in Canada. Current plans for expansion are focused on entering new states in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast, as well as growth in nontraditional locations, like airports and college campuses.

The menu features hot specialty subs, salads, and other seasonal items, and takes inspiration from the firehouse with names like Hook & Ladder (the No. 1 selling item), Engineer, and Firehouse Hero. The subs are prepared with steam-heated meats and cheeses, on a toasted sub roll, and served with vegetables and condiments. The Sorensens remain in charge of the menu, working in tandem with Firehouse Subs' Director of Product Development, Jay Miller, who joined the team in 2017.

The business magazine Forbes recognized Firehouse Subs as a winner in its article America's Best and Worst Franchises to Buy 2018.

US Bank Foundation makes $5k donation to CEI scholarships

The U.S. Bank Foundation has donated $5,000.00 to the College of Eastern Idaho Foundation and its scholarship program for the 2019-2020 academic year. This represents an increase in U.S. Bank Foundation's level of support, said Natalie Hebard, CEI Foundation executive director.

“Our scholarship program is supported by donations from individual, corporate, civic organizations, endowment contributions, fund-raisers and grants," she said. "The people who established the foundation had one goal in mind: to remove the financial barriers for students to achieve academic success. We are fortunate to have businesses such as U.S. Bank and their foundation recognize the importance of scholarships to CEI students.”

If you or someone you know is interested in attending CEI and would like to apply for scholarship
support, the next deadline to apply is Feb. 8, 2019. Award notifications will be made by the end of March and funds will be available for fall 2019 and spring 2020. Applications
can be picked up in person at CEI in the foundation office, 1600 S. 2500 East, Building 3, or found online at www.ceigiving.org.

To learn more about College of Eastern Idaho Foundation, please visit www.ceigiving.org or e-mail

Monday, November 5, 2018

Urban Land Institute to offer insights on eastern Idaho real estate trends Nov. 16 in Idaho Falls

Urban Land Institute will be in Idaho Falls Nov. 16 to deliver a report on Emerging Trends in Real Estate, based on the annual trend and forecast publication it puts out in collaboration with PwC.

The event will be from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Willard Arts Center. The keynote speaker will be Jeremey Malone, vice president of Oppenheimer Development Corp. Malone is an Idaho native and Boise State University graduate with a degree in business administration. He attained his Real Property Administrator (RPA) designation from Building Owners & Manager Institute (BOMI) International in 2007 and received his Construction Management Certificate from Boise State University in 2010. He has been with Oppenheimer since 1991.

Oppenheimer Development is also the developer behind The Broadway, the huge retail and office project nearing completion at the corner of Broadway and Memorial Drive in Idaho Falls. 

His talk will follow a panel discussion moderated by Dana Briggs, the city of Idaho Falls’ economic development director. Panelists include Mike Hicks of Keller Williams, Chris Lee of SimpLEE Home, and Brent Wilson of Thornton Oliver Keller.

The Emerging Trends in Real Estate report has a 39-year history, and draws on formal and informal surveys of real estate executives, investors, developers, and market experts around the United States, including survey responses from over 1,500 real estate executives and personal interviews with over 350 industry leaders. Survey results relating to our local market will be included in the presentation.

Admission is $25 for ULI members and $35 for non-members. For more information, visit this link: https://idaho.uli.org/event/uli-idaho-real-estate-trends-2019-eastern-idaho/.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Walsh Engineering named Small Business of the Month

Walsh Engineering Services, an Idaho Falls-based engineering firm that works with government and commercial clients, was named Small Business of the Month for October by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The award honors small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. Walsh Engineering was nominated by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and it will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate, according to a news release.

Founded by Stephanie Walsh in 2005, Walsh Engineering has contracted with Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the State of Idaho Department of Public Works.

“Since its founding, Stephanie Walsh has grown the company from a small group of dedicated engineers and designer-drafters, to a full-service engineering and architecture firm,” Risch said in the release. “She is an outstanding example of Idaho’s unique entrepreneurial spirit and is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs across the great state of Idaho.”

Risch added, “During National Women’s Small Business Month, I am pleased to honor a great woman-owned small business in Walsh Engineering.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Building permit filed for Holiday Inn and Suites at Jackson Hole Junction development

It looks like a Holiday Inn and Suites is coming to the Jackson Hole Junction development, just west of Teton Toyota near 1-15 Exit 116. A building permit application was filed Oct. 17 by Process Architecture of Missoula, Mont., on behalf of InnTrusted LLC, an Idaho Falls company with several hotels in the area.

Located at 3005 South Fork Boulevard, the permit is for a 91,330-square-foot building with a valuation of $13,128,688.

Locally, InnTrusted operates the Holiday Inn Express on Channing Way, Candlewood Suites, LaQuinta Inn & Suites and two Hampton Inns. The company also operates hotels in Nampa, Pocatello, Jerome and Meridian, as well as Missoula and Butte, Mont., and St. George, Utah.

Jackson Hole Junction is a 44-acre development with plans for two hotels, retail businesses and restaurants. Ground was broken on the site in April.

Bank of Idaho doubles earnings, donation from summer golf tournament

Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard
It seemed an insurmountable task earlier this year when Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard challenged his team to double their 2017 ‘Swing for the Green’ Tournament earnings and donation to the College of Eastern Idaho’s Education Endowment Fund. But on Thursday at 4 p.m., in the bank’s Capital Avenue lobby in downtown Idaho Falls, Newgard and his governing board will be presenting a check for $25,240, slightly more than double last year’s amount.

Local dignitaries, including Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti, CEI officials, foundation directors and trustees, are expected to be on hand to witness the delivery of the first check for the new endowment. An informal reception will follow.

“Our thanks go out to the many wonderful and generous sponsors who stepped up and donated their time and money,” said Jarod Phillips, the bank’s vice president of market development, who organized the tournament, now in its second year. Special credit goes to Wipfli and The Hartwell  Corp., who anchored the tournament again, he said.

The tournament was held in late June at the Idaho Falls Country Club, with 25 teams participating. It was co-hosted by LPGA Professionals, who have committed to return next year.

“We understand the ripple effect on our local small business economy of having a trained and ready workforce graduating, that are also more likely to continue living in the community,” Newgard said. “We hope to get the word out about the endowment fund’s scholarship opportunity to local students
because we aren’t stopping here. Bank of Idaho is proud to support CEI and the pursuit of educational excellence in our community.”

For details on how to contribute to the Endowment Fund for Higher Education, contact Phillips at (208) 524-5500 or via email at j.phillips@bankofidaho.net.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Idaho Falls schedules residential fiber program public meeting for Tuesday

The pilot area for fiber to be strung overhead, between 17th Street and Rose Hill Cemetery
The pilot area for fiber in city conduits, south of Sunnyside Road 
The Idaho Falls Residential Fiber Pilot Program is set to begin with a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Taylorview Junior High School.

Residents whose neighborhoods have been selected to participate in the pilot program have been identified and have received a letter from Idaho Falls Power and the Idaho Falls Fiber Network advising them of the date and time of the meeting.

While the meeting is specifically to answer questions for the pilot program residents, it is an open meeting and the public is invited to attend. The meeting will provide residents with more detailed information on the project, construction process, schedules and details on how and when to sign up for services. Utopia, the Utah-based telecommunications company that is partnering with Idaho Falls Power on the design of the fiber network, will also be at the meeting to help answer questions.

The Idaho Falls residential fiber pilot program was approved by a resolution of the Idaho Falls City Council in September.

“Essentially, Idaho Falls Power already manages a large infrastructure that provides fiber to numerous local businesses, government and schools,” said Bear Prairie, General Manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “What [the] resolution does…is formally direct us to prove the feasibility of expanding our network throughout the city.”
The pilot area for fiber to be buried directly, encompassing Stonebrook and some of Victorian Village
Prairie said that the pilot will allow Idaho Falls Power critical connectivity with residential electric customers to provide better power monitoring and customer service. It will also deliver previously unavailable fiber access for internet connectivity if customers want to use the additional bandwidth.

Idaho Falls Power expects residents who opt into the fiber network to experience data speeds up to one gigabit through the service.

Idaho Falls Power already maintains hundreds of miles of power and fiber lines that are run above ground on poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods. Because Idaho Falls Power already has the fiber backbone and can run new lines through existing power infrastructure, the utility can build the residential fiber network at a fraction of the cost other companies might face.

Construction for the project is scheduled in early November and is expected to continue through the spring of 2019.  The first service to customers could happen as early as December, but is dependent on planning schedules and the weather, so final plans and dates are subject to change.

Residents with questions about the pilot program can contact Idaho Falls Power at 208-612-8430 or by e-mail at ifpinfo@ifpower.org.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Developer sought for downtown Park Avenue property

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is seeking a developer

to renovate the vacant property at 336 Park Avenue.
The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is looking for a developer to revitalize 336 Park Avenue, vacant since 2015. Responses are due Nov. 8.

Located between the Lily's Too and the Villa Coffeehouse, the property was most recently the Pfaff Sewing Center. “Proposed developments are encouraged to take advantage of this site and its location on one of downtown’s most active streets and incorporate eating and drinking establishments, office support uses, or other uses supportive to residential housing on upper floors,” the request for proposals says (find the document with this link.)

The agency will negotiate with the selected developer leading to the preparation of a disposition and development agreement. Community Development Block Grant funds may be available for the restoration of the façade. "The project should be an aesthetically pleasing and efficient
project that will complement and enhance downtown.“The agency hopes the proposed development will significantly increase residential uses downtown in order to increase economic activity in the urban core of Idaho Falls. The design and uses should activate this key location,” the RFP says.

The building dates back to 1896. Based on Sanborn Map records, it housed a printing service and a drug store from then until 1905. From 1905 until 1921 the property operated as a saloon and billiards parlor on the main floor with lodging on the upper floor.

There is a gap in the city’s records from 1921 until 1946, but from the historical research I have done for my “Looking Back” column in the Post Register I can report that the Battery Cigar Store was at 330 Park Avenue in 1926. It was the scene of a sidewalk shooting in October that year in which Ed Irwin, a clerk at the cigar store, was shot by Herman Albers, the operator of a billiard hall on A Street. Albers was acquitted in December 1926 at the end of a 3 1/2-day trial.

From 1946 until 1954, according to Polk City Directories, tenants included Kellar Cigar Store, the Alaska Bar, and the Spud Bar and Billiards. Starting in 1956, the property moved to primarily retail and service uses. From 1956 to 1968, city directories list Young Town Clothing and Green’s Apparel and Women’s Clothing as the tenants. In 1970, the building became home to Pfaff Sewing Center, which it remained until 2015. Since then it has been vacant, with a condemnation notice in the window.

The Redevelopment Agency outlines the following criteria for anyone seeking to apply:

  • Commercial or community uses on the ground floor including, but not limited to retail, restaurant, service, and office uses.
  • Development of the upper floor into commercial, professional, or residential uses.
  • Addressing concerns raised in the structural engineer’s report and making the building safe and secure according to current building codes.
  • The commitment to follow the Idaho Falls Downtown Design Guidelines for
  • rehabilitation of structures.
  • The restoration of the exterior of the building.
  • Contribution to development of downtown and local employment and economy.
  • Probability of the proposed development’s success – based upon the stability and capability of the developer, demonstrated success based on past development projects undertaken by the developer, market analysis, business plan, financial strength, and timeline.
  • Ability to secure permits for construction within thirty (30) days of the closing date (to be determined).

Developer’s expectations of the Agency for the project’s success.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Land donation for event center at Snake River Landing finalized

Artist's rendering of what an Idaho Falls Events Center might look like
Idaho Falls Auditorium District (IFAD) on Thursday accepted a 22-acre land donation for the site of the Idaho Falls Event Center, a parcel within Snake River Landing. The donation was made by Ball Ventures/Snake River Landing to fulfill a commitment made in 2009 to donate land.

Construction will commence later this month on Event Center Drive, a 5-lane street designed to provide main access to the Event Center facility. Construction of the new street will be managed by Snake River Landing.

“Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing have worked side-by-side with the Idaho Falls Auditorium District in the planning and preparation of the site and required infrastructure,” says Eric Isom, Snake River Landing's chief development officer. “The completion of the land donation and the construction of Event Center Drive are the culmination of a lot of hard work by the many people involved, and show the Idaho Falls Auditorium District’s ongoing commitment to make continued progress toward completion of this wonderful project.”

“Ball Ventures is pleased to make this donation in support of the event center project,” said Cortney Liddiard, CEO of Ball Ventures. “We believe the event center will be an asset to the community and will promote additional economic development and increase the quality of life in the region.”

In 2009, during the early stages of the event center planning, the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce tasked an advisory committee with selecting the site for the future event center. Snake River Landing was selected from a number of proposals due to the high visibility of the location, convenient access to I-15, and for the ability to integrate the event center into the overall design of the mixed-use development.

“This donation is the catalyst for the road development and ultimately the event center,” said IFAD board chairwoman Terri Gazdik. “The Ball Ventures group has been instrumental in so many phases of this project.

“My wife Connie and I have always felt it is important for us to give back to the community that has given so much to our family," Ball Ventures founder Allen Ball said. "This goal has been much of the driving force behind the Snake River Landing development, and this land donation helps to accomplish this goal.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

INL receives funding for commercialization of seven technologies

Idaho National Laboratory has received funding awards for seven projects proposed to the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). TCF was created in 2005 to promote promising energy technologies across DOE’s national labs. Total funding awarded by DOE this cycle totals over $20 million across 10 national labs and 71 private sector partners. By funding received, INL was the third most awarded laboratory, receiving $2.4 million in TCF funds and $4.8 million with matching industry funds.

Each project was selected for its potential to advance promising commercial energy technologies and strengthen partnerships between INL and private sector companies to deploy energy technologies to the marketplace.

Topic 1
Topic 1 projects identify technology maturation activities to attract a private partner. Each Topic 1 project is matched with nonfederal funds from a private sector partner or through the INL Royalty Fund. INL’s Topic 1 winners are:

Active Measurement Cancellation, $75,000
Principal Investigator: David Jamison, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
This project proposes to develop and demonstrate a portable, one-of-a-kind, stand-alone instrument to assess battery module health. The benefits of Active Measurement Cancellation (AMC) include the ability to measure the impedance — or internal resistance — of a battery in real time, without modifying the battery circuit, even when it is energized. A battery that fails with a significant internal resistance rise cannot supply power externally. AMC technology provides researchers the ability to measure internal resistance on an energized battery without isolation or disassembly, making it unique within the battery industry. AMC testing ensures that batteries are safe and effective both before consumer release and during the life span of the battery. This TCF funding will help researchers provide AMC at a competitive price for greater commercial adoption.

Direct Electrochemical Valorization of Captured Carbon Dioxide, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Luis Diaz Aldana, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partner: Carbon Clean Solutions, Cincinnati, Ohio
The integration of carbon capture with carbon utilization (CCU) can help enable the economic feasibility of carbon capture technologies by generating additional value from the production of commodity chemicals and fuels. INL’s CCU technology enables process intensification by combining capture media regeneration and carbon dioxide upgrading to refinery grade syngas in a single step. This funding will help address the maturation and development of the CCU electrochemical reactor.

Mobile Efficient Modified Delta Robotic Non-Destructive Examination Platform, $73,404
Principal Investigator: Anthony Crawford, Nuclear Science & Technology
This project will include designing a mobile 3-D scanning platform and testing its performance in laboratory and industry settings. The mobility and modified configuration of this platform would allow the device to achieve in-field scans not traditionally possible with conventional systems. The mobility also enables the device to discretely progress along a component, resulting in multiple section scan images that can then be stitched together to achieve a complete component representation. This will enable many in-field nondestructive examination applications, like evaluating pipeline welds, airplane turbine blades, nuclear reactor components and more. The system also has potential benefit in the 3-D additive manufacturing arena, because it may enable in-field multiple component integration and repair.

Topic 2
Topic 2 projects cooperatively advance a lab-developed technology in collaboration with a private sector partner to bolster commercial application. Each Topic 2 project is matched with funds from a private sector partner. INL’s Topic 2 winners are:

Enable Safe and Reliable Operations of Nuclear Power Plants through a Highly Dynamic and Integrated Work Management System, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Johanna Oxstrand, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Devbridge Group LLC, Chicago, Illinois
INL will develop and commercialize a dynamic work management (DWM) system in partnership with Devbridge Group LLC. This system will be compatible with existing nuclear plants and potential new builds, and will include tools for smart scheduling, planning, procedure authoring and field work. The software will also enable smooth interaction between legacy systems. The DMW solution will be intuitive to use and will support all roles in the work management process, such as planners, supervisors, field workers and engineers. The DMW solution will empower nuclear operation, as well as increase safety and human performance related to work execution in the field by enabling the standardization of work procedures, simplification of task completion and application of real-time data analytics.

High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple, $300,000
Principal Investigator: Richard Skifton, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Idaho Laboratories Corporation, Idaho Falls, Idaho
The High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple is a breakthrough in the field of temperature measurement. It is also the only sensor specifically designed for operating reliably in high-temperature radiation environments. The accurate measurements of temperatures that it can deliver between 1,100 and 1,700°C are important to safe, efficient and economical industrial operations. In such high-temperature environments, thermocouples are the most widely used industrial temperature sensors because they are rugged, affordable and accurate — but unfortunately after installation, commercial thermocouples are prone to decalibration and can provide increasingly unreliable readings as they age. As operating temperatures and thermal cycling increase, the longevity of thermocouples also decreases. This project will provide to the market a reliable and durable thermocouple for high temperatures.

Prognostic Inspection Analysis at Nuclear Power Plants through an Advanced Imaging Service, $325,000
Principal Investigator: Troy Unruh, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: LPI Inc., Amesbury, Massachusetts
This project will develop prognostic inspection analysis tools by deploying the existing INL Change Detection System (CDS) technology and expertise as an advanced imaging service, specifically for use in nuclear facility applications. The developments will provide an intuitive user interface with powerful image processing algorithms that will allow users to rapidly detect changes in processed images. Major objectives include the development of a software application for prognostic inspection analysis, software demonstration using imagery from nuclear power plants, deployment of this technology, and feedback from LPI on the measured benefit and cost or time savings of this technology.

Pilot Demonstration of a Wireless Valve Position Indication Sensor System in Nuclear Power Plants, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Vivek Agarwal, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Exelon Generation Company LLC, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
One of the tasks performed by personnel in a nuclear power plant on a regular basis is independent or concurrent verification of manual valve position, which requires two or sometimes three people. To address these concerns, a research team at INL has developed a wireless valve position indication (VPI) sensor system that can be retrofitted on three primary manual valve types to replace manual valve position verification with digital verification, and to enable online monitoring of manual valves. Retrofitting the wireless VPI sensor system does not require any valve modification. By enabling digital verification and remote online monitoring, implementation would generate significant cost savings during plant outages, extend the calibration cycles (calibration is currently performed in every outage) and ensure valve health monitoring as part of a reduction in downtime. It would also reduce the risk of exposing plant personnel to industrial and regulatory hazards, along with a significant reduction in human errors.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

City of Idaho Falls to begin residential fiber pilot project

The Idaho Falls City Council has authorized Idaho Falls Power, the city-owned utility, to begin a pilot program to examine the costs associated with providing high-speed fiber optic access to Idaho Falls residences.

“Essentially, Idaho Falls Power already manages a large infrastructure that provides fiber to numerous local businesses, government and schools,” said Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “What this resolution does is formally direct us to prove the feasibility of expanding our network throughout the city.”

Prairie said that the pilot will allow Idaho Falls Power critical connectivity with residential electric customers to provide better power monitoring and customer service. It will also deliver previously unavailable fiber access for internet connectivity if customers want to use the additional bandwidth.

“With this project, I wish to make clear that we are not interested in becoming an Internet service provider.  We anticipate local companies will want to provide this service. What we can do is get the fiber physically to the homes and maintain the infrastructure. That is something Idaho Falls Power is really good at.”

Idaho Falls Power already maintains hundreds of miles of power and fiber lines that are run above ground on poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods. With the passage of the Sept. 27 resolution, work now begins within the study area to design a network that will provide connections from those lines to homes.

“Designing a system like this is a detailed, complicated engineering function,” Prairie said. “This is why the council also approved an agreement for us to work with Utopia, a company specializing in network design and management. It important to note that Utopia won’t be a service provider, they’ll simply help design and manage an open access system. The system will still rely on local companies to partner with to provide internet service.”

Prairie pointed out that because Idaho Falls Power already has the fiber backbone and can run new lines through existing power infrastructure, the utility can build the residential fiber network at a fraction of the cost any other company would face.

The actual boundaries for the pilot program have not yet been finalized.  However, the general area includes the numbered streets bordered by 17th Street and Tautphaus Park and will also extend south into a number of residential areas south of Sunnyside Road.

Idaho Falls Fiber will be sending out a letter in early October to residents in the pilot area. An open house also will be held at 6 p.m. on October 23 at Taylorview Middle School to explain the program in greater detail to residents living in the pilot project boundaries.

Design of the network will begin right away with construction expected to start early in November and continue through the spring. Service to customers will become available as the project progresses, beginning sometime between December and May, depending on customer location.

NOTE: If you're interested in the growing trend of municipalities stringing their own fiber -- and the laws in some states (but not Idaho) aimed at checking the trend, this piece recently ran in Wired:
Small-town ingenuity is making gigabit broadband a reality

Friday, September 28, 2018

Downtown Development receives Redevelopment Agency funds

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation has been awarded $945,000 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency for downtown projects, including street improvements and new parking technology. IFDDC's mission is to promote and care for the downtown area by promoting and advocating the downtown consistently.

"This funding will maintain the great momentum we have downtown with the development at The Broadway, the renovation of the Bonneville Hotel and many other renovations taking place in the core of downtown Idaho Falls,” said Executive Director Catherine Smith in a press release Friday afternoon. “The downtown has seen significant growth in the last 18 months and we are thrilled to be part of the efforts both as a catalyst for this growth and grateful recipient of the downtown experience."

The funds will be used for three distinct projects downtown:

• The first project will be the Broadway streetscape from Memorial Drive to Yellowstone Highway running east to west. The entire stretch will be addressed with all new curb and gutter, sidewalks, trees, and planter pots. A drip irrigation line will be installed as well. This will reduce the number of labor hours spent to hand-water the vegetation and flowers along Broadway during the growing season.

• The second project will be to address the broken and crumbling planter boxes found throughout downtown at each intersection. The planter boxes are estimated to have been installed in the 1970s, with trees planted within the concrete boxes. Over the years the boxes have deteriorated as the roots of the large trees have been constricted as well as the harsh extremes of cold and hot.

Funds will be spent on pavers with the appropriate trees for the urban landscape, plus new curb, gutter, and sidewalks. This design will allow the trees to grow in a healthy setting in soil in the ground. The design will be consistent throughout downtown and tie into the Broadway streetscape.

• The third project will include the purchase of parking meters to be installed in off-street-parking lots currently managed by IFDDC. By adding technology to the off-street-parking lots, parking customers will have a similar experience to pay-to-park in the core of downtown that is found in larger cities. The machines will allow the processing of credit cards as well as servicing the validation program for downtown restaurants, bars, and merchants that Downtown Development offers for off-street-parking patrons.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dutch Bros plans grand opening Monday for second Idaho Falls location

The new Dutch Bros Idaho Falls store, at 830 E. 17th Street, is having its grand opening Monday. 
Dutch Bros Coffee will be holding a grand opening Monday morning at its second Idaho Falls location. The new location at 830 E. 17th St. (in the Shopko parking lot) will be open Monday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The coffee stand will also be offering a 9-stamp loyalty card with every large drink purchased. The drive-thru coffee stand will be donating all of its opening day proceeds to Idaho Falls High School. (Other schools will be getting their own turn, according to the Facebook page, so nobody get upset, OK?)

Dutch Bros opened its first location in Idaho Falls on Woodruff Ave. in May and is hoping to find the same levels of success. “We are so excited to be expanding our presence in Idaho Falls,” said Tonya Thomason, operator of both Idaho Falls stores, in a press release. “We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in the community.”

Dutch Bros Coffee is the country’s largest privately held drive-thru coffee company, with more than 300 locations and 9,000 employees in seven states.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Four from INL honored by Profiles in Diversity

Cheré D. Morgan
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly
Four women from Idaho National Labora-tory have been selected as Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity, a national publication dedicated to promoting and advancing diversity and inclusion in the corporate, government, non-profit, STEM and higher education sectors.

The list of Women Worth Watching contains leaders from a variety of industries throughout the U.S. and the world. The recognition is designed to recognize and publicly celebrate the achievements of women who are “leading the way to excellence in the workplace, marketplace and the world.”

Each awardee is featured in a full-page highlight in the fall issue of Diversity Journal magazine.

Congratulations to the four INL winners:

Cheré D. Morgan, Radiological Control and Emergency Management director (p. 97)
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly, Materials and Fuels Complex chief operations officer (p.35)
Jennifer B. Porter, battalion fire chief (p. 36)
Heidi K. Scott, Performance Management lead (p. 39)

Heidi K. Scott
“We’re honored to have these four incredible women at Idaho National Laboratory recognized as Women Worth Watching. Recognition of our employees is confirmation that the steps we’re taking to promote a vibrant culture of inclusive diversity to fuel growth and drive innovation is making a real-world impact,” said Dr. Mark Peters, INL director.

Jennifer B. Porter
You can view each INL awardee’s spotlight profile in the online magazine issue here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Distinguished Under 40 honorees named

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has announced its Distinguished Under 40 honorees for 2018.

Distinguished Under 40 is an annual awards program exclusive to eastern Idaho area that honors 10 young professionals who have “gone above and beyond to accomplish great things in their careers, community, and education,” a chamber news release said. To be considered for the award, young professionals are nominated by co-workers, managers, and business associates.

Winners are selected by a panel of past and present Chamber of Commerce board members, the release said. Fifty nominations were received this year.

The 2018 honorees are:

  • Jeff Sollis, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
  • Travis Zmak, Teton Toyota
  • Mark Baker, Bingham Memorial Hospital
  • Noel Bakhtian, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Nate Sunderland, East Idaho News
  • Daniel Quintela, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • James Hanneman, INL/Battelle Energy Alliance
  • Ryan Leland, Bank of Idaho
  • Jennifer Veldkamp, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • Monica Bitrick, YMCA.

The 10 recipients will be honored at a luncheon at noon Sept. 25 at the Hilton Garden Inn. RSVP by calling Lois Mackes at 208-523-1010 or emailing programs@idahofallschamber.com. Reservations also can be made at idahofallschamber.com/event/distinguished-under-40/.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wind energy company opening office in Idaho Falls

WindSim, a Norwegian company that has been conducting wind energy research with Idaho National Laboratory, announced this week it will be opening an office in Idaho Falls. The company plans to continue the commercialization of its Power Line-Optimization Solution.

Putting too much electricity on the power grid can cause transmission lines to overheat and sag. Because of that, power has been traditionally managed using conservative static line ratings. But wind power and other renewables, combined with changing consumption patterns and smart grid management, have opened up new possibilities to operators.

Around 2010, INL researchers studying wind power plants noticed that transmission lines being cooled by the wind seemed able to handle more load. Using a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program, the team blended data from commercially available weather monitors and electric utility load data with CFD-enhanced weather analysis algorithms.

Taking wind and weather conditions into account, along with solid computer modeling and control approaches, dynamic line rating (DLR) has shown potential to unlock latent network transmission capacity – a welcome development, as it typically takes five to 10 years to bring new transmission from the planning stage to construction and operation, costing millions of dollars of investment per mile.

To use DLR effectively, however, engineers need accurate real-time information about wind conditions and factors such as the line’s temperature and amount of current it’s carrying. That information then has to be conveyed to utility operators in a way that enables them to quickly and safely adjust generation to meet load demands while operating within transmission safety limits.

Idaho Power has been working on DLR solutions with INL for close to ten years, and the utility now has roughly 450 miles of transmission line in two test beds set up to provide real-time weather information. INL discovered WindSim's CFD software around 2015, integrating it with INL-developed software called General Line Ampacity State Solver (GLASS), a finalist this year for the annual R&D 100 Awards.

In early 2016 the project was included as part of a $220 million Grid Modernization announced by DOE. Last year, DOE announced it would be receiving $300,000 in Technology Commercialization Funding. WindSim is also the recipient of a DLR project grant from Innovation Norway for implementation of the project in 2018-19.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bonneville County real estate market shows sharp jump in median home prices

Bonneville County real estate numbers from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service for the first seven months of this year show that while houses are selling in about the same numbers, prices are up dramatically along with new listings, and properties are selling faster than they were last year.

If you look at the median price from 2011 -- $134,578 -- compared to the median price this year -- $193,121 -- you've got an increase of 43 percent. It would be hard not to conclude that the market has rebounded from the hole it was in.

We took a look at the HPI Calculator to find out the value today of a house valued at $134,578 in the second quarter of 2011 and it shows that house would be worth $186,894, a 38 percent increase.

All in all, if you're thinking about selling a home you've been hanging onto for a while, it looks like now would be a pretty good time to do it. Of course, you'd have to find some other living arrangements, wouldn't you?