Wind & Salmon Connection

Wild salmon and wind energy work together well in the Northwest, as sustainable resources and job creators.  But the Obama administration's present management of the Columbia and Snake Rivers doesn't reflect this natural partnership, thus needlessly pitting wind energy and salmon recovery against each other.  We're working to change that.  Federal policy should keep the salmon swimming, the wind turbines turning, and the jobs from both growing.  Here are up-to-date reports on our work and progress.  You can also take action here.

Related: Press releases


A Northwest first – wind over water!

windmills garrett downenA recent Oregonian article explores how earlier this month, for the first time ever, wind generated more power in the Pacific Northwest than water. This is a milestone reflecting the diversification of the region’s hydro-heavy power portfolio. Thus far wind-over-water has been a brief occurrence, but one sure to become more common as additional wind projects go online.

The Oregonian article quotes the Renewable Northwest Project’s Cameron Yourkowski about how wind and hydro can work well together in our region. Sometimes, however, barriers arise. During the last two springs – amid the juvenile salmon’s downriver migration and high river flows – the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has cut transmission access to the region’s wind power producers rather than decreasing hydropower to leave grid space for the electricity that those wind turbines produce.

BPA inaccurately claims that the extra spill - more water going over the dams rather than through the turbines - that would have been caused by cutting back hydro generation would harm migrating salmon and steelhead. The best and latest science, however, supports wind and salmon, not BPA. More spring spill the last two years would have benefitted both wind producers and salmon and steelhead returns.

What our region really needs are effective, comprehensive solutions that work well for wind, for hydro - and for salmon. BPA should honor all of its public responsibilities and reposition itself as a regional leader providing clean, affordable, renewable energy – including hydro and wind – while protecting and restoring healthy, harvestable populations of wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Salmon, fishing and clean energy advocates, along with businesses and others, believe this is one of the important issues that could be tackled through regional stakeholder talks. It’s time to get them started!

BPA stifling opportunities for salmon, wind, and jobs

windmills garrett-downen SMALLYou’ve likely noticed an increase in posts on our website and blog about wind energy, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and strange, Orwellian phrases like “oversupply management” and “power over-generation.” And you might be asking: what does this have to do with saving wild salmon?

Turns out: A LOT. Our efforts at restoring the lower Snake River for threatened salmon and steelhead populations, and improving salmon passage at Columbia River dams, have a lot of overlap with Northwest electricity, since the largest killer of fish is our hydroelectric dams. And it’s why our Coalition is proud to work alongside groups like the NW Energy Coalition, that are leading the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.


Wind farm set to power 100,000 homes taking shape in Washington utility Puget Sound Energy has now installed 119 turbines out of 149 due to be set up for its Lower Snake River wind farm in western Garfield County, Washington State.

The transportation of big wind turbine components to the site 13 miles west of Pomeroy should come to an end this week.

Nearly 1,200 oversized truck-trailers have already rolled along US 12 on their way to the project’s Phase 1, with daily deliveries carrying components up to 160 feet long and weighing up to 82 tons.

Some of the components for the Siemens wind turbines have been manufactured at the Siemens Energy factories in Iowa and Kansas, arriving into Pasco by train for transfer onto trucks to the wind farm site.

Read more over at Brighter Energy News.

New challenges emerge in wind vs. water debate

By Lee van der Voo

sbo_logoWind turbines are back to transmitting power without interference in the Northwest as the Bonneville Power Administration has ended a 53-day curtailment period aimed at balancing the grid amid high water flows. But whether that policy benefited more than economics for BPA is now the subject of dispute.

As opponents to BPA’s curtailment policy continue to stoke what’s become a national debate over power transmission rights, one thing is clear: The sparring over BPA’s decision to supress 97,557 megawatts of wind power is just the first round in what’s likely to become a prolonged legal fight.

Read more at Sustainable Business Oregon.

Salmon Group Wades Into Pacific Northwest Curtailment Battle

by Mark Del Franco

NAWLogo_newA group of salmon advocates is siding with wind developers in their battle against system operator Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

High seasonal river flows resulting from runoff from large snowpacks caused an overabundance of hydropower and left no room on the grid to accommodate wind power. This led the BPA to curtail wind production this spring, which angered wind developers and prompted them to file a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June.


BPA puts the brakes on wind and blames salmon

SOS proposes a “wind-win” solution to BPA’s problems

From the desk of Rhett Lawrence, Policy Analyst for Save our Wild Salmon

Wind.WallaWallaRiver.smAs part of its ongoing attempts to reduce spill levels in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has now implemented its policy to shut off wind energy production in the region due to high flow levels in the rivers.

Even though BPA has had several years to prepare for this situation, the agency is now claiming that legal constraints for salmon and overgeneration of wind and hydropower are forcing it to turn off wind power production. That policy was implemented for the first time in the early morning hours of May 18 and has been used every day since then for a least a few hours.


Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.




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