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Dam Study Finds New Energy Sources

by Jonathan Brinckman
The Oregonian, April 10, 2000

Conservation, wind and geothermal energy could replace power generated by lower Snake River dams

Electric power provided by four federal dams on the lower Snake River could be replaced for $1 to $3 a month per household by investing in conservation, wind turbines and geothermal energy, according to a study released today by two conservation groups.

The federal government is studying whether to breach the dams to help the endangered Snake River salmon and steelhead. The dams generate an average of 1,137 megawatts of electricity a year, about 4 percent of the electricity used in the Northwest.

"Some of the opponents of breaching dams argue that if we take them out we will be creating dirty air," said Nancy Hirsh, policy director for the NW Energy Coalition of Seattle, which produced the report with the Natural Resources Defense Council of San Francisco. "We have shown that is not the case. Clean energy is there, it's reliable and it's affordable."

The authors of the study assumed that if the dams were left in place, measures to make the Snake River safer for fish would reduce their average electricity production to 940 megawatts a year. The authors then calculated what would happen if companies replaced that power or if the Bonneville Power Administration developed a "zero-carbon strategy" that stressed increased conservation and non-polluting energy sources. The Bonneville Power Administration is a federal agency that sells electricity generated at 29 federal dams and one nuclear plant.

The results:

Jonathan Brinckman
Dam Study Finds New Energy Sources
The Oregonian, April 10, 2000

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