Manager’s Message – August 2022

The Importance of the Lower Snake River Dams

Cyndi GentryYou may have noticed the focus on the lower Snake River dams on our social media lately. In the past month, multiple studies have been released regarding the feasibility of removing these important dams. I am happy to share the links to these reports with anyone who emails me.

  • Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released “Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report.”
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a draft report, “Rebuilding Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead.”
  • The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) released the “BPA Lower Snake River Dams Power Replacement Study.”
  • Northwest RiverPartners released “Lower Snake River Dams Power Supply Replacement Analysis.” As your PUD, we would like to share a summary of important information:
  • The decline in fish returns is seen in both free-flowing rivers and rivers with dams. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes this is due to warming ocean conditions, and NOAA agrees.
  • Given currently available technologies, removing the lower Snake River dams would require grid operators to rely more heavily on carbon-based sources to maintain grid reliability, adding millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, doing further damage to the environment.
  • Given existing technologies, replacing the dams with a carbon-free portfolio could cost as much as $76 billion. Our customers’ rates could increase by as much as 65% under this scenario.
  • While our focus is on the energy ramifications, we also recognize the significant impacts to flood control, irrigation, transportation of goods, and recreation should the dams be breached.

We must continue to offer the essential public service of electricity in a reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible way. A “ready, fire, aim” approach to breaching dams and removing hydropower does not meet the responsibility standard.

We will continue to reach out to our state and federal leaders. We encourage you to do so, whatever your views on this issue. If we cannot have the conversations, we cannot solve the problem. We can only create new ones.

Cyndi Gentry
Corporate Services Director