By Diane Dietz
For the Emerald Public Utility District, the New Year has brought the end of a dam story.
A Toronto-based company finally had its U.S. subsidiary, Symbiotics, pay the utility $664,000 — plus interest and fees — to buy out EPUD’s share of the Fall Creek dam electricity project.
But the payment didn’t come until after the utility filed suit against the company last July, Symbiotics missed a court-mandated payment in September, and the utility garnisheed company bank accounts for $121,650 in November and $375 in December. Read more
By K.C. Mehaffey
The Wenatchee World
OROVILLE — An Okanogan County PUD proposal to relicense Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River near Oroville doesn’t make economic sense, four environmental groups contend.
The PUD has been working for seven years toward restarting operations at the dam, which was built in 1920 but stopped producing power in 1959 when it became cheaper to buy from the Bonneville Power Administration. Read more
By Jordan Schrader
The News Tribune
Power companies this month are facing mandates voters imposed in 2006 to either produce green energy or buy credits from those who do.
Utilities complain that Initiative 937 requires them to buy power they don’t need – especially with the economic downturn depressing demand – and say they are passing costs to their customers. Environmentalists credit the law for Washington’s burgeoning green-power industry, which they say has invested $7.5 billion here.
Now the chairmen of the House and Senate energy committees, Rep. Dave Upthegrove and Sen. Kevin Ranker, have crafted what they hope will be a step toward compromise.
But at their proposal’s first public hearings Monday and Tuesday, it was clear the potential changes satisfied almost no one. Read more
By World Watch Institute
Global use of hydropower increased more than 5 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication. Hydropower use reached a record 3,427 terawatt-hours, or about 16.1 percent of global electricity consumption, by the end of 2010, continuing the rapid rate of increase experienced between 2003 and 2009.
The cost of hydropower is relatively low, making it a competitive source of renewable electricity. The average cost of electricity from a hydro plant larger than 10 megawatts is 3 to 5 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour. Hydropower is also a flexible source of electricity since plants can be ramped up and down very quickly to adapt to changing energy demands. Yet there are many negative aspects associated with hydropower: for example, damming interrupts the flow of rivers and can harm local ecosystems, and building large dams and reservoirs often involves displacing people and wildlife and requires significant amounts of carbon-intensive cement. Read more
By Becky Kramer
Idaho residents have relatively small carbon footprints because most of their electricity comes from hydropower, a new study says.
Idaho’s rivers generate 80 percent of the electricity used in the state. As a result, the Gem State has the second lowest per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, according to a U.S. Department of Energy analysis.
Idaho released 9.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person in 2009. The state of New York had the lowest per capita rate – 9 metric tons per person – which the study attributed to mass transit and energy-efficient buildings in New York City’s metro area.
Carbon dioxide is one of the main gases associated with global climate change. Washington’s per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions was 11.6 metric tons in 2009. Read more
By Kristi Pihl
An irrigation canal in Franklin County may become the site of the first power plant in the nation to use a new hydroelectric power technology.
Percheron Power of Kennewick hopes to build a small conduit project on a canal two miles west of Mesa near Road 170 and Langford Road.
The Franklin County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval for the conditional use permit for the project Tuesday, but the company has many other regulatory hoops to jump through before construction. Read more