Randy ShumwayIt’s easy to forget what powers the electricity that surrounds us. We pay our electric bills and, magically, our lights turn on, our phones charge, and our refrigerators stay chilled.

Behind the scenes lies a masterfully orchestrated network of both traditional and renewable resources that is monitored constantly to ensure that both residents and businesses across the state remain connected to electricity. At present, Idaho is implementing key updates to integrate renewable energy with traditional sources and boost energy-based jobs.

In Idaho, the energy grid is powered by a variety of sources, including hydroelectric, coal, wind, and natural gas. Energy prices vary with the supply and demand for these resources. Currently, Idaho’s electricity prices are almost 24 percent cheaper than the national average, which reduces costs for residents and provides competitive advantages for local businesses. Plentiful hydroelectric sources in Idaho, and coal and natural gas plants in nearby Wyoming, Oregon, and Nevada keep prices affordable.

Nearly 85 percent of the energy generated in Idaho comes from renewable sources, and the state is working to reduce its dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels. Incremental expansions in Idaho’s already-flourishing renewable energy portfolio will decrease Idaho’s reliance on imported fossil-fuel based energy and increase the number of jobs available in the energy sector. For example, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved $1.4 billion of utility-scale solar projects that will create 9,000 temporary jobs and 65 long-term jobs, while providing 400 megawatts of power—enough electricity for 100,000 households.

In addition to these expansions, Idaho’s electric grid is scheduled to get much smarter over the next few years. Idaho Power Company—Idaho’s foremost electricity provider—recently announced that it will work to integrate its grid with that of the California Independent System Operator so that one region’s energy excesses can supply others with electricity at reduced rates. Grid integration will increase Idaho’s energy efficiency by ensuring that energy is produced only when needed. It will also pave the way for renewable sources to more efficiently and reliably deliver power in the future.

While ensuring a cleaner environment for communities, these innovations will boost energy-based jobs in Idaho’s already thriving economy. Electricity for everyday users will remain as magical as it has always been, but the networks of electricity production will become much smarter over time.

Housing Market. In September, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 5.8%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 6.4% during the same period.

Idaho Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.2% in September, and the national unemployment rate also remained unchanged at 5.1% in August.

Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index decreased 0.2% from August to September. Year over year, the index remained unchanged at zero, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.

Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 5.0 points to 97.6 in October. The Present Situation Index decreased 8.2 points to 112.1, and the Expectations Index decreased 2.8 points to 88.0.