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Commentaries and editorials

Competition and Innovation
Will Drive Our Energy Future

by Mark Schoesler
Spokesman-Review, July 4, 2021

Any plans to remove the lower Snake River dams will have a significant impact on Washington's power system.

Replacing power output of the four Lower Snake River dams would reduce rate pressure throughout the Pacific Northwest.  See for the details taken directly from Appendix H of the recent Environmental Impact Statement available at Not surprisingly, Americans acknowledge competition as the best path forward for our energy grid. According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult, Americans view competitive electricity markets as more effective than utility monopolies at driving an array of positive outcomes for reliable electric service, consumers and the environment.

So while our state's energy needs and capacity will continue to grow, we will not only need to maintain our tried-and-true sources of renewable energy like hydropower, but also pave the way for new sources to build off of the base of carbon-neutral energy that our existing hydropower dams provide us.

Any plans to remove the lower Snake River dams will have a significant impact on Washington's power system. Representative McMorris Rodgers deserves credit, as she has long been a champion of the lower Snake River dams. She recognizes their importance to a variety of sources for a clean, renewable, reliable and affordable energy future. Additionally, the lower Snake River dams provide needed (and clean) power when the Hanford nuclear plant is down for refueling, which occurs every 18 to 30 months.

We need to maintain this productive and important energy-production approach in which we continue to harness hydropower and other renewable energy sources.

In Washington, hydropower is king, serving as the main producer of clean energy. But more is needed, and one path would benefit consumers in a number of ways as we prepare for a massive modernization of our electric grid: incorporating a competitive electricity market in the Pacific Northwest.

There will always be a need for our existing hydropower as well as new energy sources like wind and solar that will need to be ramped up to help as our economy grows. However, we will need multiple sources and competition within their electricity markets to bring about a modern future and meet the growing demand. Implementing an increase in competition will produce the most efficient results for consumers across our state.

In other parts of the country, providers purchase electricity at wholesale prices, and then sell that electricity to customers at market-determined retail prices. Market factors drive decision-making and providers are able to adjust quickly to changing circumstances and consumers' needs.

This competition drives the need to be cheaper, and more innovative. It also improves technologies, and providers must respond nimbly to changes in fuel prices or demand shifts -- all to the benefit of consumers, families and small-business owners who pay lower rates.

Hydropower is a reliable source of energy generation that produces clean and emission-free renewable energy. In 2019, hydropower accounted for 62% of total electric generation. It is flexible and adaptable to Washington's climate and geography. Wind and solar energy are still largely intermittent and dependent upon the weather or the time of day. Rep. McMorris Rodgers understands this, and her continued support not only for hydropower, but for competition will be critical for our energy future.

Implementing an increase in competition will produce the most efficient results for consumers across our state. As one report from NERA Economic Consulting explains, "successful competitors innovate and offer the customer something better than that offered by standard service." In fact, in a recent letter from nine former energy regulators, they agreed that a competitive market is best suited to "attract substantial clean energy investment and will be the key to implementing needed climate solutions."

We need more policymakers like Rep. McMorris Rodgers in Washington, D.C., and in Olympia who understand the need to expand the opportunity for sources of energy and competition that would not only benefit consumers but would also spur the innovation necessary to ensure Washington continues to reach our short-term needs for power and our long-term goals for the future.

Mark Schoesler, , R-Ritzville, serves the 9th Legislative District
Competition and Innovation Will Drive Our Energy Future
Spokesman-Review, July 4, 2021

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