The lower Snake River dams are a critical part of the Northwest’s clean energy future. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released in late February recognizes that dam removal “would destabilize the power grid, increase overall greenhouse emissions, adversely affect power rates and more than double the risk of regional power outages.”
Well-funded special interest groups are attempting to sway public opinion away from the benefits of the system in support of breaching the dams.
The public comment period ends on 4/13/2020. We are asking our members to support the clean, reliable and low-cost hydroelectricity by clicking on the following link and cutting and pasting the attached letter. All you need to do is add your name to the bottom.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COPY AND PASTE THIS LETTER:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
I am a member/consumer of Midstate Electric Cooperative (MEC), a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in La Pine, Oregon. The cooperative purchases 100% of our power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to provide electric service to over 36,000 people and 2,000 businesses in four counties in Central Oregon.
MEC agrees that Multiple Objective 3 (MO3) – breaching the four lower Snake River dams (LSRD) – would have an adverse impact on electric cooperative consumers, the reliability of the Northwest energy grid, and the global environment.
The LSRD are an integral part of our electricity supply in the Pacific Northwest – powering 900,000 homes annually. We are pleased that the DEIS rejected the dam breaching option based on the conclusion that it “has the highest adverse impacts to other resources, especially social and economic effects.” We are also pleased that the DEIS rejected Multiple Objective 4 (MO4), which significantly increases spill and dramatically decreases power production.
MEC is serious about their mission of delivering clean, affordable, reliable electricity to us, the members. The DEIS concluded that breaching the LSRD would have “long-term, major, adverse effects on power costs and rates,” and the “rate pressure could be up to 50% on wholesale power rates.” Increased spill as envisioned by MO4 would also increase costs up to 41%.
A 40-50% increase in BPA’s rate could lead to an increase of several hundred dollars a year to us, their members. The most impacted by these rate increases will be our vulnerable populations – senior citizens and those on fixed incomes – who shouldn’t have to choose between medicine, food or paying their electric bills.
MEC also takes seriously their commitment to keep our lights on. The DEIS concludes the dam breaching alternative would “more than double the region’s risk of power shortages.” MO4 creates an even higher risk of brownouts and blackouts in the Pacific Northwest, which again would harm our co-op’s most vulnerable populations.
Oregon’s electric cooperatives are proud of our clean energy profile, with a power supply that is consistently over 90% carbon-emission free. According to the DEIS, breaching the dams would create an additional 3.3 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 - a staggering 10% increase in power-related emissions across the Northwest. MO4 shows similar carbon impacts. The DEIS clearly demonstrates that breaching the LSRD or spilling excessive amounts of water would be a step backward from decarbonization efforts in our region.
The DEIS also noted that the co-lead agencies have made substantial improvements for fish passage at the LSRD and lower Columbia River dams. Our cooperative has helped fund this multi-billion-dollar effort to improve fish passage at the dams, which is meeting targets of 96% survival rates for migrating juvenile fish. We believe that it is important to build upon this successful fish passage program instead of taking the drastic measure envisioned in MO3 and MO4.
Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives is a national network of electric cooperatives across 46 states that provides resources and leverages partnerships to help member cooperatives and their employees better engage and serve their members. By working together, Touchstone Energy cooperatives stand as a source of power and information to their 32 million member-owners every day.