by Associated Press
Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Friday the state will join a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, fishermen and Northwest Indian tribes to block the Bonneville Power Administration summer spill plan for salmon.
Kulongoski is the only one of four Northwest governors to oppose the plan to reduce spills at four hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in August.
Kulongoski said state and tribal biologists estimate the spillway closures will kill about 500,000 migrating juvenile salmon, which eventually will translate to up to 20,000 fewer adult salmon returning to the Columbia River in four to five years.
The Bonneville plan is aimed at balancing salmon conservation with energy demand as required under the Northwest Power Act.
But Kulongoski said the plan does too much damage to salmon runs. Instead, he is urging BPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dams, to upgrade fish passage systems.
"We need to implement a long-term solution that can achieve the dual goals of power generation and fish recovery," the governor said. "Simply shutting off water spills is not the best way to meet all the competing economic needs."
U.S. District Judge James Redden has scheduled a July 28 hearing on the lawsuit.
bluefish does the math for your convenience: BPA estimates that eliminating summer spill would provide 1.15 - 1.49 million Megawatt*hours (MWh) of "surplus" electricity to sell (typically to California) at an estimated average price of $32/MWh (yielding $37 - $46 million). Prices of course will vary with time of day and electricity market conditions. BPA estimates that elimination of summer spill could potentially provide a 2% electricity rate reduction.
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