Manager’s Message – September 2022

Join the Conversation

Debi WilsonDear Co-op Community Members:

As summer draws to a close, I want to bring your attention to an issue that could greatly impact our ability to provide affordable, reliable electricity to members—the proposed removal of the four lower Snake River dams.

In June, Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray, both of Washington, released a study called “Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report.” While the report noted the cost of replacing benefits provided by the dams—hydropower, irrigation, flood control and barging—could range between $10.3 and $27.2 billion, it still greatly undervalued the implications of dam removal.

Too often, this conversation narrowly focuses on the impact of dams on native salmon. What it overlooks is that healthy salmon and dams can coexist. Federal agencies, working with regional salmon experts, have developed the world’s most advanced fish passage systems. These measures, financed by you and other ratepayers in the region, have helped meet specific fish survival targets despite challenging ocean conditions.

In focusing only on salmon, it also minimizes other critical issues pertaining to removal of the lower Snake River dams, including:

  • Increased power-related emissions across the Northwest, a devastating step backward from decarbonization efforts in our region.
  • Heightened risk of brownouts and blackouts in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, solar, wind and battery storage are inadequate replacements for hydropower.
  • Spiking costs to wholesale electricity rates, potentially adding several hundred dollars more each year to your electric bill.

These impacts will, unfortunately, be most felt by our vulnerable populations.

The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA), which represents the state’s 18 electric cooperatives serving more than a half million Oregonians, has organized an effort to amplify cooperative voices on this issue. On behalf of Lane Electric, I’ve added my name to an ORECA-led response outlining cooperative concerns to Inslee and Murray.

This issue of Ruralite highlighted ORECA-Action, powered by Voices for Cooperative Power (VCP), a resource that unites electric co-op members to inform elected officials on how policy decisions impact rural communities. I encourage you to explore VCP and join the conversation on the ORECA Action website.

Debi Wilson