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Commentaries and editorials

Get Out of the Way

by Anthony Jones
Lewiston Tribune, July 14, 2019

Costs of the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan hatcheries add substantially to the overall costs of the Lower Snake River dams. Petroleum shipments to Lewiston ended in 2011. Container carriers abandoned the river in 2015. Pulp and paper shipments are only one-third of their 2000 peak. Even wheat and barley, the mainstay of the navigation system, has decreased by half since 2000 and is trending lower as unit train terminals across the Palouse take market share from the lower Granite pool.

Worse, the dams are no longer willingly supported by energy sales. Bonneville Power Administration customers are tired of paying $36-plus per megawatt hour for the same energy BPA sells as surplus on the spot market to California for $25 or less.

BPA’s days as a cash cow are numbered. Subsidy programs and high cost surplus assets must go.

Fish numbers are down, but it’s the shippers and energy consumers that are killing the dams. Unit trains now eat the barge system’s lunch while sub-$20 solar power with battery backup is leaving $40-plus lower Snake River dam power in the dust.

In management-speak: It is time to restructure the lower Snake River. It is time to trade the barge system for unit train terminals for the benefit of the remaining river shippers before they are left high and dry like the last of the container shippers.

And, it is time to quit pretending BPA customers will continue subsidizing power no one wants. Finally, it is time to get out of the way of fishing and recreation industries yearning to grow.

Related Pages:
Simpson Should Start With This 'What If' Question by Anthony Jones, Lewiston Tribune, 5/5/19

Anthony Jones, Boise
Get Out of the Way
Lewiston Tribune, July 14, 2019

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