Snohomish PUD should push BPA toward nonhydro energy sources

PUD and clean energy

Push BPA to nonhydro renewable energy

A recent Herald article (“PUD eyeing conservation, innovation to meet growing energy need,” The Herald, Feb. 21) gives insight into Snohomish County PUD’s plans for meeting the region’s expanding energy needs. While it should be applauded for its vison on energy conservation, storage technology and balancing demand, their relationship with Bonneville Power Administration merits further examination.

In 1937 BPA was created to market the power of Bonneville dam and this roll expanded as other federal dams were constructed. As BPA’s largest customer, Snohomish County PUD receives 74 percent of its power from its hydro projects.

Lighter snowpacks and hotter, dryer summers — symptoms of accelerating climate change — are reducing the amount and value of the region’s hydropower. Meanwhile, after billions of dollars and decades of attempts to recover salmon and steelhead, we know that the dams and reservoirs we’ve built are lethal for migrating fish. To effectively address our climate crisis we must rapidly develop clean energy that does not rely on Northwest rivers.

Regrettably, BPA seems bound with institutional inertia and business as usual thinking. Delivering new sources of non-hydro renewable energy will require transmission line upgrades and expansion which BPA has been sluggish to address

Regional utilities are currently meeting with BPA to develop the power contracts that will influence the future development and transmission of non-hydro renewable energy. As BPA’s largest customer, Snohomish County PUD must exert its purchasing strength and leverage contracts with BPA that fulfill their well thought, forward looking goals.

Donald Miller


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