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Commentaries and editorials

Flawed Arguments on Spill

by John Kober
The Oregonian, April 6, 2004

The Oregonian's recent editorial supporting yet another proposal by the Bonneville Power Administration to cut costs at the expense of salmon by eliminating spill at the dams relies on faulty information and fuzzy math.

Let us not forget that the costs involved here are in the form of foregone revenue. The water in the Snake and Columbia rivers is not solely for the purpose of generating dollars for BPA.

In fact, if BPA and The Oregonian were to apply the same accounting standard to water that is used for agriculture, municipalities and to flush the barges through the locks, how much foregone revenue does that amount to? How much does evaporation cost BPA?

The Oregonian needs to be reminded that if the four lower Snake River dams were not in place we wouldn't need to spill as much water and our salmon wouldn't be ground to sushi every time BPA needs extra revenue.

bluefish does the math for your convenience: BPA estimates that eliminating summer spill would provide 1.15 - 1.49 million Megawatt*hours (MWh) of "surplus" electricity to sell (typically to California) at an estimated average price of $32/MWh (yielding $37 - $46 million). Prices of course will vary with time of day and electricity market conditions. BPA estimates that elimination of summer spill could potentially provide a 2% electricity rate reduction.

John Kober Wildlife Program Manager National Wildlife Federation Northwestern Natural Resource Center Seattle
Flawed Arguments on Spill
The Oregonian, April 6, 2004

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