Manager’s Message – March 2022
Infrastructure, Dam Battle Rages On
The interplay between weather patterns— rainfall, snowpack, wind, sunshine—and electrical energy production in our region cannot be overstated. Especially when it ultimately affects our personal finances.
Even though we had some record-setting snowfall and cold snaps earlier this winter, conditions as we look toward spring and into summer aren’t forecast to work in our favor, from an energy perspective.
A deficit of energy and capacity (commodity/ supply) combined with increases in electrical load (sales/demand) is one factor that influences price. Purchased energy is the largest line item in our budget each year.
The second-largest is our capital investment program for utility infrastructure: the poles, wires, transformers, meters, trucks, computer systems, and other items that keep our lights on safely.
As the West shifts away from carbonemitting resources and increases electrification of other sectors—transportation, for example—that infrastructure and energy supply have never been more critical. The availability of the low-cost, carbon-free, environmentally responsible Federal Columbia River Power System is paramount for our community and the Pacific Northwest.
Your PUD directors, senior staff, and I work with the Bonneville Power Administration and other federal partners directly and through trade associations to monitor and influence, where possible, how to best use those resources for the public benefit.
What we are finding is that there continue to be special-interest groups that aren’t concerned with our community or your finances attempting to influence and negatively affect the future and safety of the energy grid. Specifically, they are demanding removal parts of the FCRPS, starting with the lower Snake River dams.
For our PUD, that isn’t just an idle attack from folks outside of our community working in Salem, Olympia, Boise, Helena and Washington, D.C. Editorials in our local news claim supposed benefits of those actions without providing science-based and factual views to the contrary.
If made, the decision to remove dams is not likely to be in the best interest of returning adult fish, other regional commodity transportation or even the infrastructure itself—let alone juvenile fish, the supposed beneficiaries of the work these groups are attempting.
So, what does this all mean for you? For the moment, it’s just a cautionary note. For the future, it’s a warning that the resources we depend on are under attack and in jeopardy. We are proud of the low-cost electric service we provide. We will continue to fight hard on your behalf to protect it.