Manager’s Message — October 2021
Governor Brown, Please Stop Damaging Litigation
Dear Co-op Community Members:
Last November, Northwest utilities received news Oregon Gov. Kate Brown intended to sue the federal government over management of the Federal Columbia River System. At that time, I, along with other stakeholders, pleaded with the governor to come to the table and collaborate, as she previously agreed to do. On July 16, utilities were extremely disappointed to learn Gov. Brown’s administration filed a preliminary injunction with the U.S. District Court.
If approved by the court, the preliminary injunction would require spill across the lower Snake River dams and the main stem Columbia dams, which will significantly impact public power’s hydroelectric system. This would most likely supersede the flex spill arrangement previously negotiated with Oregon requiring spill 24/7 year-round.
Oregon’s motion for a preliminary injunction is misdirected in terms of recovering salmon. If the court orders anything remotely close to what Oregon demands, it will have extremely negative and dire consequences for everyone. First, spill will potentially cost more than $100 million a year. That equates to about a 5% increase in rates charged to us by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Second, spill will result in substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Lane Electric receives clean, renewable energy from BPA. Ironically, the loss of available power would need to be offset by energy sources with higher carbon content. This undermines the governor’s long-term carbon reduction goals, which goes against the policy direction of Oregon and electric utilities.
Finally, and extremely concerning, spill of this magnitude increases the risk of blackouts.
All these impacts are well documented in the federal government’s environmental impact statement, along with mounting empirical and physical evidence. Furthermore, these impacts hit lower-income and underserved communities the hardest.
Along with several other utility stakeholders, I signed a letter to Governor Brown asking her to withdraw or end these proceedings. We do not agree you can simultaneously litigate and negotiate. Governor Brown needs to remain committed to the Columbia Basin Collaborative she agreed to and help end the never-ending litigation surrounding salmon issues. Oregonians, our neighboring states, and other stakeholders deserve a collaborative effort.