11A.1 Public/Private Research Opportunities, They Can Work

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 8:30 AM
406 (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Derek Blestrud, Idaho Power, Boise, ID; and S. Parkinson, M. L. Kunkel, R. M. Rauber, B. Geerts, J. R. French, K. Friedrich, R. M. Rasmussen, L. Xue, and S. A. Tessendorf

The Idaho Power Company (IPC) is an investor owned utility serving over half a million customers in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. About half of the electricity delivered to IPC’s customers comes from its 17 hydroelectric projects along the Snake River and its tributaries. Since hydropower is a significant component of the company’s generation portfolio, snowpack is critical to IPC’s hydropower operations. As such, the company implemented a winter orographic cloud seeding program in 2003 and the project currently targets the Payette, Boise, Wood, and Upper Snake River basins to augment the high elevation snowpack. IPC recently worked alongside scientists funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to collect physical data about orographic cloud microphysics of seeded and unseeded storms. The project, titled “Seeded and Natural Orographic Winter time clouds – the Idaho Experiment” (SNOWIE) is unique in the way that it utilizes privately-funded cloud seeding operations and research as well as publicly-funded research equipment and scientists. The integration of publicly-funded instrumentation into IPC’s network of meteorological equipment resulted in a unique data set available to both IPC and academic researchers for years to come. The partnership greatly enhances both groups research opportunities as well as upholds the operational side of the cloud seeding project. This presentation will look at the challenges that were overcome for this partnership to work. SNOWIE illustrates importance of designing a project based off a wide range of needs, as well as building a strategic working relationship with all the committed partnerships. This project demonstrates, and set’s forward, a blueprint for research partnerships that can cross the public/private divide.

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