On Feb 6, 2021, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced a plan aimed at improving salmon and steelhead conditions by breaching the four lower Snake River Dams. While the issue of dam breaching has plagued the Northwest for over 30 years, this plan includes some fundamental differences from previous efforts.
Snake River Sockeye, Chinook and Steelhead were classified as endangered species in 1991, 1993 & 1997, respectively. Since that time, the enormous cost of northwest fish and wildlife mitigation has fallen squarely upon public power consumers, like members of Clearwater Power, through your electric rates. Despite having paid $17.5 billion toward recovery efforts, the conflict over dams has remained at a stalemate, frustrating stakeholders on both sides. Congressman Simpson’s proposal includes over $33 billion to go toward investments in infrastructure and community development in an effort to reach a compromise.
Clearwater Power is deeply concerned with the potential loss of hydroelectric power supplied by the affected dams. Our top priority must be reliable and affordable electricity and any solution would have to ensure an adequate resource of reliable, affordable electricity while also meeting the region’s carbon-reduction goals. Simpson’s plan includes $16 billion toward electric generation, energy storage and system upgrades. The plan also includes appropriations for barging, shipping, economic development and many other areas that would be impacted by the removal of the dams.
While we do not agree with breaching the lower Snake River Dams, we must continue to investigate the technological and economic impacts of this proposal so we can take an informed and thoughtful position.
K. David Hagen