NorthWest RiverPartners April 2023 Runoff

Runoff | April ’23

Welcome back to the Runoff, the hydropower blog that you can be assured won’t try to play any practical jokes on you that possibly induce anxiety and/or confusion on the first day of April–or any other day for that matter. Each month, we capture the region’s most important hydropower news and give you our take on it, along with some more lighthearted and interesting segments along the way.

Hydropower round-up

WA/MT Legislatures Take Different Approaches Regarding Lower Snake River Dams

As we covered in our March edition of Runoff, the Washington State legislature continues to weigh budget proposals to fund two separate multi-million-dollar lower Snake River dams’ replacement studies. One would examine the electricity replacement implications, while the other would analyze the transportation replacement requirements to account for the elimination of barging and 10% of the nation’s wheat exports.

Further east, Montana is weighing its own lower Snake River dams’ legislation. If Montana’s SJ10 passes, the state would officially adopt a position opposing breaching the lower Snake River dams.

Our take:

  • Northwest RiverPartners is on record as advocating for dams that provide meaningful benefits to society and supporting the removal of dams which do not. The lower Snake River dams fit the former category, and we believe the studies proposed by the Washington state legislature will further prove that contention–so long as they are science based and not political.
  • We are encouraging WA legislators to adopt the House version of the budget that specifically examines key issues involved with dam removal, such as grid reliability concerns and the achievement of clean energy mandates. If you live in Washington state, we encourage you to write to your legislators and encourage them to endorse the House version: Click here.
  • Northwest RiverPartners provided testimony in support of Montana’s SJ10 legislation, as did Flathead Electric Cooperative, Montana’s largest electric co-op, and the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association. In its testimony, Northwest RiverPartners noted that all of Montana’s US Senators, US Representatives, and the Governor are on record as supporting the preservation of the lower Snake River dams.

White House Council on Environmental Quality listening sessions

As part of the ongoing federal mediation process, the White House Council on Environmental Quality held two listening sessions. These sessions allowed for public input on the lower Snake River dams. Selected speakers were provided an opportunity provide up to 3 minutes of comments.

Our take:

  • The listening sessions, like other activities surrounding the White House CEQ process, seem determined to exclude the voices of millions of public power customers.
  • Please see an excerpt from our press statement following the 3/31/2023 listening session:

“We have engaged in this process with CEQ in good faith, it is unfortunate that this approach is not shared by everyone. Instead of a well-rounded discussion of critical issues like rate increases, regional grid reliability, and the lower Snake River dams’ critical role in meeting Oregon and Washington emissions laws, today’s participants were hand-picked activists, while the voices representing millions of ratepayers were boxed out.”

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Hydro headlines

Soggy California winter set to charge up state's hydropower sector
Soggy California winter set to charge up state's hydropower sector

California’s unusually stormy winter is promising good news for the state’s struggling hydropower industry.

New hydropower dam designs leave fish unharmed
New hydropower dam designs leave fish unharmed

In a hydroelectric power plant, water is channeled through turbines to spin the blades that power generators. The sharper these blades are, the more efficiently they can cut through the current to generate power.

In our opinion...

Comment: Hydro remains key to our next ‘Great Electrification’ |
Comment: Hydro remains key to our next ‘Great Electrification’ |

Moving to a carbon-free electrical grid will rely on all sources of clean energy, especially hydropower.


Thanks for stopping by to read Runoff! We’ll be back on May 5th–barring unforeseen computer disasters–but in the meantime, be sure to follow us on our other social media channels below and spread the word about this blog with your own followers!

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