Monthly Archives: December 2013

Ballot fight over Oregon renewable energy law could be sparked by small rural utility

By: Jeff Mapes
The Oregonian

Could a small electrical cooperative in eastern Oregon up-end the state’s renewable energy law?

That’s the question being asked as the Umatilla Electric Cooperative essentially tells legislators: Fix the renewable energy standards to satisfy our concerns or we’ll put an initiative on the ballot that largely guts the law.

Steve Eldrige, the co-op’s general manager, portrayed the initiative as the only way Umatilla could get the attention of state lawmakers and big energy players.

“They wouldn’t even talk to us until we started getting the signatures” for a ballot measure, he said.

The initiative would considerably ease renewable energy standards by allowing the region’s massive hydropower dams to count toward meeting the requirements. Read more

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Columbia River treaty: U.S. wants to keep more energy production at dams

Associated Press
The Oregonian

The United States has staked out its position for potential negotiations with Canada over a treaty governing hydropower and flood control on the Columbia River and seeks to keep more of the energy produced at dams.

The final recommendations, sent by U.S. regulators to the State Department on Friday, also call for making ecosystem improvements a third primary purpose of the treaty — in addition to flood control and production of hydropower.

The treaty, which was signed in 1964 and governs operations of dams and reservoirs on the fourth-largest river in North America, has no expiration date. But either country may cancel it or suggest changes beginning in 2024 with 10 years’ notice. Read more

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Climate change affects Northwest snowpack, study says

By: Becky Kramer
The Spokesman-Review

Last weekend’s doozy of a storm followed a classic Northwest weather script.

Winds gusting to 40 mph blew moisture-rich air from the ocean into the Cascades and Northern Rockies, dumping snow on the mountains while leaving lower elevations bare.

The winds – called “winter westerlies” – are vital to a region that depends on mountain snowpack for its water supply. But a new study suggests that climate change is disrupting the winds, with stark implications for future water availability.

“Those winds are being slowed down by climate change,” said Charlie Luce, a research hydrologist at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise. That means fewer storms will reach the mountains, or smaller water droplets will drift over the peaks as fog instead of falling as snow, he said.

Either scenario would mean additional headaches for Northwest policymakers preparing for an altered climate. Read more

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