Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative is extremely disappointed with Governor Kate Brown’s stunning decision to support the removal of the four lower Snake River Dams. It is shocking that during a serious legislative debate on carbon reduction, Governor Brown supports a course of action that is estimated to increase CO2 emissions by over 2 million metric tons – every year. This output is equivalent of adding 421,000 passenger cars to the region’s roads each year. Governor Brown’s decision to remove the Snake River dams completely contradicts and undermines the State of Oregon’s claim they are serious about carbon reduction and also undermines the integration of renewables onto our transmission grid, as the federal hydro system is flexible, carbon free and complements intermittent resources such as wind and solar power.
The Snake River dams produce over 1,000 average megawatts of reliable, clean, carbon-free hydroelectricity annually – enough to power nearly a million Northwest homes. They also help mitigate the threat of floods to the Northwest and help drive the region’s economy by competitively transporting local crops and providing agriculture and local farmers with essential irrigation. The Governor’s call could have dangerous consequences for our mission to provide the nearly 60,000 residents of Baker, Grant, Harney and Union counties with competitively priced electricity. According to a newly commissioned analysis by Northwest River Partners – a hydropower advocacy group – replacing the energy created by the lower Snake River dams would cost $860 million annually, which in turn would lead to utilities raising rates.
We urge Governor Brown to reconsider this ill-fated decision. OTEC, our member-owners and the environment cannot afford to lose the clean, carbon-free and competitively priced power the dams provide.