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Commentaries and editorials

The Cost of Losing Dams

by Gary Hartman
Democrat Herald, October 6, 2009

We have seen in the past few months plans culminating to remove hydroelectric dams in the Klamath River, dams which provide power for 70,000 homes.

If such a foolish action occurs, it will only increase the environmental demands for breaching the lower Snake River projects.

There has been an ongoing effort to breach the four dams on the Snake River, yet those dams produce more than 3,000 megawatts of clean, renewable power. It seems environmental and fish concerns ignore the effect of such actions.

Those huge losses in power would need to be replaced. To think wind power would cover the loss is laughable. Wind is obviously not a constant of significant quantity.

And to choose a dirtier source of power in place of these clean dams would be totally against the "green" approach being foisted upon us as the reason for all environmental concerns.

Beyond those power concerns is the fact that an average of 4.4 million tons of products pass by barge through existing locks in the Snake River dams per year. A U.S. standard semi-truck gross weight is 40 tons. If you do the math (see below), that is the equivalent of more than 140,000 truckloads a year. It is apparent that increased traffic on highways or already stretched railroads would have to carry that additional tonnage to and from Idaho and Oregon communities.

It will be interesting to see if any effect on salmon whatsoever occurs from removing the Klamath dams. If the environmental and fish groups are wrong, it will be at huge cost.

(bluefish math: 4,400,000 tons / 40 tons/truck = 110,000 trucks and this assumes that none of this freight is shipped by train. Also of note is that the average yearly energy production of the four Lower Snake dams is 1050 MW, roughly one third of the 3000 MW capacity. This compares to roughly 2000 windmills rated at 1.5 MW capacity with a typical wind capacity utilization of 30%.)

Related Pages:
Salmon, Water, Energy Policies Should be Considered Together by Sara Patton, The News Tribune, 8/26/9

Gary Hartman, Lebanon
The Cost of Losing Dams
Democrat Herald, October 6, 2009

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