Idaho Statesman: A changing electrical grid may make Snake River dams expendable — and help save salmon

dam.photoBy Rocky Barker, August 04, 2017

Editor’s note: The Northwest has yet to figure out a sustainable plan to save imperiled Columbia salmon. This is part two of a series exploring whether salmon can ultimately survive.

PASCO, Wash. The fate of the Northwest salmon may be decided by the way you use your heater and your air conditioner.

In the near future, the U.S. electric grid will be able to digitally manage the vast Northwest hydroelectric network in a way unimaginable just a few years ago. With consent from customers, it will be able to adjust the heaters and air conditioners of millions of homes and buildings, or tap into the batteries of electric cars or other smart appliances.

It’s a revolutionary change for the Northwest economy, the energy market, the Columbia Basin dam system and the salmon that migrate through it.

The four dams of the Snake River in Washington are less valuable now due to a power surplus caused by wildly successful energy-efficiency programs, cheap natural gas, and rapidly growing wind and solar energy options.

Read the full story here.

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