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BPA Meets Electricity Demand Without Endangering Salmon

by Robert McClure
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 3, 2000

Pacific Northwest salmon haven't been hurt by California's heat wave after all. Not yet, anyway.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power produced at federal dams in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, had announced it might suspend fish-friendly procedures at electricity-producing dams in order to goose the juice level and send more power south to sweltering California.

But the agency didn't have to do that yesterday, BPA spokesman Perry Gruber said. Washington and Oregon electricity providers, including BPA, were able to send California enough power to avoid rolling blackouts in the Golden State.

But Mark Glyde of the Northwest Energy Coalition, an environmental group, criticized BPA. He said the agency, using profits from selling power at high rates in California, should offer industrial users more financial incentives to voluntarily suspend operations. That, he said, could probably prevent the need to harm any young salmon migrating to sea.

Hurting the fish would happen if the agency, in order to produce more power, ran additional water through turbines at dams on Northwest rivers, thereby funneling less water over the dams' spillways. That forces more young salmon through the turbines, where they are prone to injuries.

Glyde said BPA should do everything it can to protect the fish.

"This is going to be going on the entire month," Glyde said. "It's not going to go away."

Robert McClure
BPA Meets Electricity Demand Without Endangering Salmon
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 3, 2000

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