Thursday, February 11, 2010

Affordable energy without the dams

Northwest Power and Conservation Council Analysis Finds Lower Snake River Dam Removal Will Have Little Effect on NW Ratepayers

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Northwest Power and Conservation Council yesterday released its 6th Power Plan, which charts the Northwest’s energy course for the next 20 years. The Council’s detailed analysis accompanying the plan shows that the Northwest can meet all new electricity needs over the next 20 years and remove the four lower Snake River dams with very little effect on Northwest ratepayers. In addition, the region can meet its energy needs with no net increase in greenhouse gas emission and no new fossil-burning power plants, but instead can meet these needs with energy efficiency and renewables.

Pat Ford, Executive Director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, said:

“We would like to thank the Council for approving this plan. It proves that we can take bold actions to both save our wild salmon and chart a clean and affordable energy future. Our region is blessed with ample, affordable energy conservation and renewable energy resources to serve power needs and fulfill our climate responsibilities, while reviving our salmon economy and creating thousands of good local jobs along the way.

The Council’s analysis, among other things, lays to rest the misinformation that Northwest energy users will be economically devastated if the four lower Snake dams are removed to protect and restore salmon and salmon-based communities. The Bonneville Power Administration, for instance, has long stated that by removing these dams the Northwest would have to provide about 3000 MW of new gas or nuclear plants, causing a rate increase of 20% or more.

However, the Council’s analysis shows that the region would only need to build about 200 MWs of new gas plants and 145 MWs of additional conservation to replace the output of the dams. The impact on customers’ bills would be somewhere between 2-4% percent if spread throughout the region, refuting claims that dam removal would devastate ratepayers. Indeed, when taken together with the rate impacts of all the actions in the plan, customers' bills are actually expected to go DOWN over the next 20 years, regardless of lower Snake dam removal. This is because the Council’s plan relies on the cheapest way by far to meet our future electricity needs: energy efficiency measures that save customers both energy and money. The Council did not endorse dam removal in its plan, but we applaud it for including its best analysis of the energy and rate impacts of that action, should it be taken.

The Council’s findings mirror conclusions in the NW Energy Coalition’s Bright Future report released last year. That report shows that we can have both salmon in our rivers and a clean energy future, and the Council analysis released today supports that conclusion. Now is the time for Northwest leaders and the Obama Administration to boldly step forward without apology or excuse, and embrace both the salmon restoration and clean energy actions Northwest people and economies need. We can secure a clean energy future, we can remove the four lower Snake River dams, and we can all benefit by doing both.”

To view the Northwest Power Plan, go HERE

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