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Commentaries and editorials

Dams and Energy

by Reed Burkholder
Idaho Statesman, January 30, 2007

Why does Sen. Craig oppose dam removal in southeastern Washington to aid in the recovery of Idaho's wild salmon?

One can only guess. But based on what he says, it appears that he has not done his homework.

He suggested in a Statesman article Dec. 3, 2006, that power costs would skyrocket if lower Snake River dams were removed. This is ridiculous. Actual generation from these dams is too low.

Sen. Craig said "dams provide a supply of electricity that can be depended on at a moment's notice." Not the four lower Snake River dams. These dams have an erratic fuel supply that makes them extraordinarily undependable. Fuel (inflow of river water) is routinely so low that most of the generators in the powerhouses are gathering dust, not generating power.

Sen. Craig also said that two nuclear power plants would be needed to replace the dams. Nukes are base load machines of roughly 1,000-1,500MW apiece. The base load reliability of the dams is about 200 MW.

Craig appears to completely misunderstand the energy side of the dam breaching debates. I suspect he would support dam removal if he had a grasp of the facts.

Reed Burkholder, Boise
Dams and Energy
Idaho Statesman, January 30, 2007

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