Nov 20, 2017
Get ready to pay rising electricity prices while Idaho's wild salmon and steelhead runs continue to collapse
Bonneville Power Administration raised its average wholesale rate for electricity 28 percent the past few years, is raising it 5.4 percent in
2018 and projects a 2 percent surcharge for additional spill for migrating juvenile fish. BPA's long-term contract rates are now $33.75/Megawatt hour. Nationally, the cost of wind energy averages $20.02/MWh.
BPA's revenue from sales of excess power is dropping steadily as major customer California expands solar energy production. Citing surplus power/lack of demand and growing fish mitigation costs, BPA is pricing itself out of the power market. BPA does not need the 975 annual megawatts produced by the Lower Snake River dams, just 6.5 percent of Pacific Northwest hydropower.
Of the 24 LSR dam turbines, nine have exceeded their maximum useful life of 45 years. Six more will do so by 2021, and five more by 2025. The cost of one turbine rehab is $35 million to $45 million. Twenty-two rehabs? Close to a billion of your dollars.
By keeping the LSR dams, here is what ratepayers and taxpayers get:
Electricity rates continue to climb. Idaho's sockeye salmon and B-run steelhead likely go extinct. Hatchery fish numbers dwindle. We spend more to subsidize declining barge transportation. We forego the economic and ecological benefits of recovered fish runs and of 20,000 acres of riverine wildlife habitat and riverfront property.
Giving up our fish for electricity we don't need is a wrenching loss.