The state of Oregon’s legal action against the federal hydroelectric system continues to be a topic of discussion. We are again asking for your help to join our grassroots program.
Oregon is asking the federal court in Portland to mandate spilling reservoir water over eight federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to increase survival of threatened and endangered fish passing through the dams. However, salmon and steelhead abundance is improving, according to SalmonRecovery.gov. All four Northwest states have thoroughly debated the issue in a collaborative process. Washington, Montana and Idaho oppose the idea.
You may wonder how this affects you. If Oregon’s legal action is successful, the price of wholesale power from the Bonneville Power Administration would increase about 2 percent. A not-for-profit such as Hood River Electric would need to pass on those costs to its members.
Spilling stored water means losing an estimated $40 million per year of clean, renewable and reliable energy. This baseload generation cannot be replaced by energy conservation and intermittent resources such as wind or solar. It would need to be replaced by another reliable carbon-based resource, such as natural gas, and would have negative environmental impacts. Notably, the Oregon Global Warming Commission recently concluded Oregon is unlikely to meet its carbon reduction goals.
The benefit of hydropower comes with the responsibility for mitigating its impacts on protected species. More than 25 percent of HREC’s wholesale power cost supports fish species recovery. In total, Northwest ratepayers have invested more than $16 billion for this purpose during the past three decades. Today, for every $100 a family or business pays toward its monthly electric bill, $15 to $20 goes toward salmon restoration efforts. Now Oregon is asking you to pay the price tag for an experiment that could not gain regional consensus.
We are committed to fight to keep electricity affordable, but we need your help! Through the ORECA-Action grassroots program, we are working to make the voices of our members heard. For more information, go to ORECA-Action.org. Choose to make a difference and join today.
John Gerstenberger, Manager