Breaking through snake dams will double the risk of energy shortages in the Northwest - Tri-City Herald

Breaking through snake dams will double the risk of energy shortages in the Northwest – Tri-City Herald

Opinion and comment

Editorials and other opinion content provide perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.

Last fall, Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee announced that they would lead a regional operation to consider “all options” to restore degraded salmon and steel courses in the Columbia River Basin, including the potential breach of the Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD). After announcing that they would approach the hacking issue with an open mind and without a predetermined decision, the process they used led many representatives of electric utilities and commercial organizations to believe otherwise.

Next month’s draft “report” from Murray Inslee operation He will be released and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the call to breach levees is front and center. And while I appreciate my choice to provide input to the process, I continue to be frustrated and deeply concerned by the politicization of energy and environmental issues.

What else would you call it when Senator Murray and Governor Inslee chose to undermine and even ignore recommendations drawn from a comprehensive multi-million dollar study and 2020 Environmental Impact Statement; EIS was developed by scientists, engineers, and other professionals who have worked for decades on balancing hydroelectric power and fish recovery processes. It is clearly irresponsible and political to suggest that EIS cannot be trusted simply because it was completed during the previous presidential administration.

It is important for the public to understand, those responsible for the comprehensive and meticulous planning and operation of the power grid and have studied the LSRD penetration as an EIS option, concluding that it would more than double our region’s risk of power shortages and could lead to a significant 50% increase in wholesale electricity prices under Carbon-free replacement scenario.

Providing affordable, environmentally responsible and reliable electricity is a full-time job. I am proud and proud to make it my career path. I don’t have all the answers but I want the public to know, any claims coming out of the Murray-Inslee process that part-time wind and solar could easily replace LSRD hydro that most of us don’t support in helping ensure the health, safety and well-being of our customers. There are obvious scientific reasons for our position, but it’s also just common sense.

Aggressive clean energy policies that rapidly remove reliable generation from the grid are increasing reliance on hydropower to provide a moment-to-moment balance between electricity supply and demand. Regardless of what levee advocates claim, Snake River levees are not redundant and easily replaceable. In addition to being an important contributor to securing required dimming during extreme weather conditions, generation from LSRD is the basis for the power supply portfolios of 142 Bonneville Power Administration clients, including 127 consumer-owned and non-profit facilities located in five Northwest states.

Like countless others who depend on the federal hydroelectric system, I’ve worked hard to understand salmon science. I have also learned, in trying to separate politics from science, to beware of those who say, “Science is settled” and proclaim the opinions of some scholars as scientific facts. I have lived in the Northwest almost all my life and love all that our rivers have to offer. Recovering salmon and steelhead is an incredibly complex issue, but from my seat the science is far from resolved. There is still a lot we don’t know that we need to understand before considering drastic action like busting levees; Especially now.

We need to preserve the levees of the Lower Snake River.

Rick Dunn is the general manager of the Benton General Services District.

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