Press Statement

August 25, 2022 Vancouver, WA

Murray-Inslee Report Confirms Importance of the LSRD, High Value of Hydroelectricity to the Region

Community Service Advocates Were Concerned Replacement Costs Would Fall on Disadvantaged

Vancouver, Washington — August 25, 2022 — Senator Patty Murray and
Governor Jay Inslee today released their final “Lower Snake River Dams
Benefit Replacement Report” and recommendation. The report is meant to
examine if there are reasonable means to replace the value and benefits of
the four Federal dams on the Lower Snake River (LSRD). They concluded
that breaching the dams is infeasible in light of their importance in achieving
the region’s clean energy goals. Their recommendation states that robust
clean energy solutions must be in place before dam removal to meet our
region’s existing emissions laws.

“We appreciate Senator Murray and Governor Inslee’s efforts on the
decades-long debate over the lower Snake River dams,” said Kurt Miller,
executive director, Northwest RiverPartners. “Their recommendation
recognizes the importance of the dams in avoiding blackouts and keeping
electricity affordable for lower income communities as we retire coal and
natural gas generation. The dams cannot be removed without significantly
increasing the region’s CO2 emissions, which is bad for salmon in all phases
of their lifecycle and will make climate change worse. Northwest
RiverPartners and its members remain committed to being a partner in
salmon recovery and solidifying hydropower’s role in fighting climate

The Murray-Inslee report and recommendation is unconnected to any active
permitting or regulatory rulemaking process. The report does highlight the
exorbitant costs of removal and the risks to our economy and efforts to
promote economic justice if the dams are breached.

Just yesterday (8/24/2022), Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was
interviewed by Malcom Woolf on National Hydropower Day and
stated: “Most other energy resources simply can’t do what hydropower can
do.” Adding, “Hydropower is cheaper and cleaner. [It] means lower bills,
means better health.”

According to President Biden’s appointee, “Hydropower is a force multiplier
for adding more clean energy to the grid.”

The Murray-Inslee report states replacement costs could exceed $31B, other
reports have placed the figure at more than twice that number. The report
does not go into any detail about who would have to pay for the billions in
additional costs. Many in the region are in agreement with the Secretary that
hydropower provides affordable energy.

“Cowlitz County communities face significant challenges, with a
disproportionate number of residents living in poverty at a rate 25% higher
than Washington State. Ensuring our customers are served with clean,
affordable and reliable electricity helps protect our communities’ most
vulnerable population. Losing the lower Snake River dams could raise rates
by over 25%. It’s critical the dams are protected for the populations we
serve,” said Gary Huhta, General Manager of Cowlitz Public Utility District.
“The question the low-income households will have to ask themselves is, “Do
we pay rent, pay the energy bill, buy food or buy the needed medicines.” The
answer either way is not a viable option, either choice has its consequences,”
said Dahlia Ochoa, Energy and Emergent Service Department Director at
Community Action Connections.

Community Action Connections (CAC), located in Pasco, Wash, provides
utility and heating assistance to help ensure families will not have to live in a
cold, dark house, eat cold food and wash with cold water that can lead them
to be more susceptible to illness. The CAC provided written comment to the
Murray-Inslee process, it can be read here.

“Maintaining the absolute lowest cost, clean, renewable energy supply is
essential to economic recovery and slowing current rapid erosion of the
working middle class,” said VJ Meadows, executive director, Tri-Cities Food
Bank. “Replacement of the power generation capacity provided currently by
the dams would come at a much higher cost and drive electrical bills higher
long into the future.”

The Tri-Cities Food Bank provides emergency food to more than 40,000
families in Benton City, Kennewick, Finley, Richland, and West Richland.
Forty percent of the people served by the Tri-Cities Food Bank are children.
You can read their comment letter to the Murray-Inslee process here.


Contact: Aaron Toso, 253-495-1296,

About Northwest RiverPartners
Northwest RiverPartners (NWRP) is a not-for-profit, member-driven
organization. We represent not-for-profit, community-owned utilities across
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. We also
proudly represent farmers, ports, and businesses across the region that
support clean energy and low-carbon transportation.

NWRP is focused on raising awareness about how the Northwest’s
hydropower system betters communities and the natural environment, and
we encourage science-based solutions that help hydropower and salmon
coexist and thrive.