Study Says Clean Energy Options Could Replace Snake River Dams

Apr 4, 2018



A clean energy advocacy group says a new study shows a portfolio of clean energy sources can replace the power provided to the Northwest by the four lower Snake River dams.

Advocates for endangered salmon have called for removal of those dams, and a federal judge has declared that option needs to at least be addressed when considering how to help fish.

The Northwest Energy Coalition study concludes clean energy options could replace all of the energy produced by those dams, which provide 4 percent of the energy to the region.

“We have a tremendous opportunity, we’ve always known this in the northwest. And now with costs coming down on solar, but especially in wind, and on others, like geothermal, the potential is really pretty clear. We’ve already developed 10,000 megawatts of wind and solar is coming along in a much bigger way,” says coalition spokesman Fred Hewitt.

In addition to those alternate sources, Hewitt says the portfolio includes a concept called “demand-response”, reducing customer demand for short periods when the supply is tight.

“The advantage of demand response is you can target it to when you really need it, 40, 50, 100 hours a year when the system is really stretched," Hewitt said. "Demand-response is turn off air conditioners for a few minutes, and rotate that around, decrease the big machines in a big industrial plant."

The study found that the cost of using the new portfolio instead of the dams for the average residential customer would be about one dollar per month.

It also found the plan would either decrease greenhouse gas emissions, or increase them by one percent, depending on regional climate policies.