Wind & Salmon Connection
Wild salmon and wind power can work together
Guest columnist Pat Ford says that wind power and hydropower don't need to work at cross-purposes for a healthy Northwest economy and environment.
Wind-power supporters and salmon communities share common ground on plans to shut down wind turbines during this spring's high river flows and high hydropower production at Columbia River and Snake River dams ["Wind-power producers fight possible shutdown of turbines," Seattle Times, April 13]. With the right policies, wind and water can work together for a strong economy and healthy environment in the Northwest.
The above-average snowpack producing above-average flows this spring is good for young salmon and steelhead heading to sea. More will make that trip in the river, instead of in trucks and barges, and benefit from faster reservoir currents and more spill over dams. That means more adult salmon will come back in two years, improving watershed health and creating more fishing and food jobs.
Spring is when dams and wind turbines generate the most power. High water can lead to more hydropower generation than can be effectively marketed. Should that occur in the coming weeks when flows peak, the Bonneville Power Administration is prepared to cut off wind projects' access to the federal transmission system, uncompensated, so hydropower can fill the lines instead.