Thursday, September 22, 2016

EIRMC launches canned food drive to mark 30th anniversary

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this fall. The hospital opened its doors on Dec. 22, 1986.

One of the ways it plans to observe the occasion is with a canned food drive. The goal is to collect 30,000 cans to benefit 11 food banks in the region EIRMC serves. The hospital sees patients from all over eastern Idaho, from Driggs to Blackfoot, including Idaho Falls.

“We are thrilled and honored to participate in EIRMC’s celebration of three decades of caring for our community,” said Bud Langerak, executive director of the Community Food Basket in Idaho Falls. “The coinciding food drive will help several food pantries serve our friends and neighbors with food insecurity. I encourage our communities to support this great event with food donations at EIRMC and the free online donation process.”

Community members can help with the food drive in two ways. They can drop off cans of food in the EIRMC main lobby or cafeteria at any time. Or they can deliver canned foods to the participating food banks and tell them it is for the EIRMC food drive.

Second, community members can visit EIRMC30Years.com to “virtually donate” to the food drive. Visitors can submit their email each day and EIRMC will donate on their behalf.

The EIRMC30Years.com website includes a count of the total cans donated so far, which is updated weekly. On the website, visitors will also find historical photos, stories from longtime employees, EIRMC history, and other information about the 30 year anniversary.

The canned food drive is scheduled to run through the end of December.

Here is a complete list of food banks: Community Dinner Table (Blackfoot Community Pantry), Community Food Basket (Idaho Falls), Cornerstone Pentecostal Food Bank, Family Crisis Center (Rexburg), Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen, Jefferson County Food Bank, North Bingham County Community Food Bank, North Fremont Food Pantry, Salvation Army (Idaho Falls), St. Vincent de Paul, and Teton Valley Food Bank.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pinecrest Event Center opens Friday

A seating area in the new Pinecrest Event Center, which opens Friday.
Pinecrest Event Center, 505 E. Anderson Street, is opening for its first event this weekend. This is the space that used to be Lamont’s in the Country Club Mall. With more than 25,800 square feet, including a 19,500 reception hall, it is equipped to handle banquets up to 1,600 or a theater setting of up to 2,100 people.

Business owners Jay and Cathy Dye saw a need for a place that could handle large parties, banquets and receptions, trade shows and special events. For the past two holiday seasons, the only sizable option in Idaho Falls has been the Shilo Inn.

The calendar has been filling up. Following the Home Improvement and Remodeling Expo this weekend, events include the Habitat for Humanity Hoedown (Sept. 30), the Pink Dance Party Zumbathon benefit for the Rex and Tiffany Redden Foundation (Oct. 1), the 10th Annual Policeman’s Ball (Oct. 7), and the Idaho Falls Gem and Mineral Rock and Jewelry Sale (Oct. 8). In November the Idaho Falls Ski Club Sale and Fest will be there, as will the 42nd Annual Festival of Trees.

For more information, call (208) 227-8088, or check out the Web page, pinecresteventcenter.net/.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I.F. Advertising Federation holding annual kickoff Thursday

The Idaho Falls Ad Federation will be starting its 2016-17 season with its annual Season Kick-off and Recruitment Party Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Snow Eagle Brewery, 455 River Parkway.

IFAF is a non-profit, volunteer trade organization made up of members in the marketing, advertising, design, web, social media and public relations industries. Its avowed purpose is to promote professional development among its membership and foster creativity through education. It hosts a monthly “Lunch and Learn” session, where guest speakers share expertise and offer inspiration.

Thursday's mixer is a way to meet creatives, designers, and media representatives while enjoying food and drinks. Memberships will be on sale.

For more information about AdFed, visit the organization's Web site: https://ifadfed.wordpress.com/

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Van Ashton of Idaho Falls Power honored for energy efficiency work

Van Ashton
Van Ashton of Idaho Falls Power has been recognized by the Northwest Public Power Association for his career in the public power industry and his work at advancing energy efficiency.

It is estimated that Ashton’s leadership has resulted in 70 million kilowatt-hours of energy savings over his career. Ashton accepted the Jim Brands Award Tuesday at the NWPPA’s Communications and Energy Innovations Conference in Missoula, Mont.

In 1983 the average winter consumption for electrically heated homes in Idaho Falls was 2,645 kilowatt-hours. Today, it is 1,676 kilowatt-hours.

Ashton was hired in 1981 as IFP’s first customer service representative. He was a strong advocate among Idaho’s public power utilities to develop and implement energy efficiency measures within the Idaho Energy Authority (IDEA).

"Van's legacy at Idaho Falls Power will be the tremendous success of the energy efficiency programs that he developed and implemented," said Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power's general manager. "The savings realized through those programs have helped us extend the capacity of our local power assets and weather some rocky times in the industry."

At IFP, Ashton led the creation of weatherization programs for residential and commercial customers. Between 1982 and 1989, an average of 1.3 million kilowatt-hours were saved annually through the conservation department. In 2008, IFP launched an advertising campaign called Switch to Energy Efficiency that has resulted in big increases in participation in the utility’s energy-efficiency programs. Since 2009, an average of 5.7 million kilowatt-hours have been saved annually through these programs.

In 2010, IFP began working with the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Ashton turned his attention to customer participation and testing, coordinating the installation of Demand Response technology in the homes of 1,200 volunteers. The technology proved capable of bolstering the utility’s energy efficiency and conservation measures and will soon be incorporated into the Energy Services program.

“Van has worked extremely hard to be an advocate for his utility, as well as neighboring utilities, in all of his dealings with BPA," said Mary Beth Evans, Bonneville Power Administration's  Energy Efficiency representative. "He is viewed by his peers as a leader in his industry and is looked up to by many. Van has a vast historical knowledge in the utility industry, and he is able to communicate that knowledge effectively with others.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

UAMPS decision on SMRs at INL expected by early 2017

NuScale Power's Proposed Plant Site Layout
Public Power Daily is reporting that Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, of which the city of Idaho Falls is a member, expects to make a decision in early 2017 on whether it wants to start the application process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a combined construction and operating license for Small Modular Reactor development by NuScale Power on the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory site.

Here's a link to the story: UAMPS identifies preferred site in Idaho for small modular reactor project.

A few things that jumped out at me. The project “is scalable, depending on how many UAMPS members are involved,” said LaVarr Webb, a spokesman for UAMPS, in a Sept. 7 interview with the American Public Power Association. Each reactor would be rated at 50 megawatts and, if the maximum of 12 were put on the site the project would have a capacity of 600 MW, Webb said.

The Utah public power agency has not decided how many SMR units it would want to have in order to go ahead with the project, but UAMPS “would want to get closer to 12” rather than go with just one or two reactors, Webb said.

Idaho Falls Power has been looking for a source of affordable baseload power for at least 10 years. I remember the trip I took in 2006 with Mayor Jared Fuhirman, utility director Jackie Flowers (new on the job at the time) and the City Council to Delta, Utah, when UAMPS was looking to buy into a third coal-fired plant planned for the Intermountain Power Project site. Here's an Associated Press story from the Salt Lake Tribune that ran then: Idaho Falls may buy coal-fired power from Utah.

IPP3, slated to be built by 2012, never got off the drawing board, but Idaho Falls' need for dependable, affordable power at critical times of the year, especially summer, has not gone away. Reliance on run-of-river hydropower from the dams the city built in the 20th century gives it bragging rights for renewables in its portfolio, but the longstanding relationship it has had with Bonneville Power Administration is changing. To me, building a new generation of nuclear power plants on the Idaho desert represents a return to our roots of sorts. This is where nuclear energy was pioneered in the 1950s. I know there is massive enthusiasm for it in Idaho Falls, and that it would create many, many new jobs.

I'm curious to hear what our fellow Idahoans in Twin Falls, Ketchum and Boise are going to have to say about it, which is why I will be curious to see whether these SMRs can be built and online by 2024. Not to pour cold water on anyone, but have you ever seen what happens when lawyers start talking to each other? Wasn't it Eddy Arnold who had a big hit with the title Make the World Go Away?