Pursue Compromise for Salmonby Scott Corwin
The Oregonian, April 15, 2004
The Oregonian took a sensible position in editorializing that federal river managers should pursue a compromise between spilling water over dams for salmon and using that water for needed hydropower ("Saving salmon, spilling money," April 1).
Let's review. Spilling water over the dams in summer loses electricity ratepayers $77 million. We know that it helps almost no endangered salmon because more than 99 percent of that run uses other technologies to pass the dams.
Federal biologists estimate that spill helps 19,000 out of a healthy run of 385,000 chinook that folks want to catch and eat. That amounts to $4,052 per fish -- not efficient.
By contrast, the Bonneville Power Administration proposes replacing some of this wasteful spill with a list of measures developed by local biologists that will return more salmon at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers, ratepayers and our economy. That is a win-win, and is just good management of these important resources.
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.
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