Monthly Archives: April 2014

Dorena hydro project just may be water over the dam

By: Christian Wihtol
The Register Guard

COTTAGE GROVE — Dreams of clean energy from a new hydroelectric plant on Dorena Dam have turned into a financial nightmare for the project owner and the plant’s general contractor, new legal filings show.

Rather than seeing green, they are seeing red.

Under construction for nearly two years and originally slated to be done last June, the innovative, privately owned power plant still is not operating. It is many millions of dollars over budget, according to recently filed documents in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Eugene. Read more

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Drawdown of Columbia River reservoir creates problems, opportunities

By: Becky Kramer
The Spokesman-Review

VANTAGE, Wash. – Mud, lots of mud, with a river flowing through it.

Anja Reynolds gaped at an unfamiliar Columbia last week as her husband, Dave, and their three kids stretched their legs at a park near the river’s edge. The Shelton, Wash., family had stopped for a break on the six-hour drive to Spokane.

The river no longer filled the gorge at Vantage from basalt cliff to basalt cliff. Vast mudflats stretched out to the water. A “no trespassing” sign warned the family to stay off the unstable shoreline.

“I’ve seen the river a lot,” Anja Reynolds said. “This is different.”

The reservoir behind Wanapum Dam has been drawn down since late February, to relieve pressure on a crack that developed in one of the concrete supports for the dam’s spillway gates. As they pass over the Columbia on Interstate 90, people are getting a glimpse of the river not seen since the dam’s reservoir filled in 1964. Read more

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Central Oregon hydro project acquired by Apple

By: The Associated Press
The Register Guard

BEND — Apple has acquired a hydroelectric project near the company’s new data center in Prineville.

Data centers use lots of electricity to power thousands of computers that hold digital information.

Company spokesman Chris Gaither told The Bulletin newspaper that Apple will not comment specifically on the deal, but it has made running its facilities on renewable power a priority.

The 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project was first proposed in 2010 by EBD Hydro of Bend.

EBD Hydro estimated the project would generate 3 to 3.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,100 to 2,450 homes.

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Possible causes of Wanapum Dam crack narrowed

By: Nicholas K. Geranios
Associated Press

Pressure from the water behind Wanapum Dam may have contributed to the big crack that has disrupted operations at the structure, the Grant County Public Utility District said Wednesday.

The cause of the crack remains unknown, but the utility said it had ruled out four possibilities: seismic activity, foundation settlement, operation of spillway gates and explosions at the nearby Yakima Training Center operated by the U.S. Army.

Chuck Berrie, assistant general manager of the utility, said learning the cause could occur as soon as the next two or three weeks.

The 65-foot-long crack was detected by divers on Feb. 27, three days after a worker at the dam noticed that the top of a spillway pier had shifted slightly. When the reservoir behind the dam was drawn down by 26 feet, the pressure on the spillway was reduced and the fracture closed. Read more

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Oregon data centers win praise from Greenpeace, a former skeptic

By: Mike Rogoway
The Oregonian

Data centers are huge, hulking industrial operations – remote warehouses packed with thousands of computers. They use as much electricity as small cities to store our e-mails, photos and Facebook updates, and to keep their computers cool.

Environmentalists once fretted over these server farms, lamenting the toll all that energy use took on the environment. But many of the big data center operators have a new, unlikely ally: Greenpeace.

The watchdog group issued an unusually rosy report Wednesday morning, lavishing praise on Apple, Facebook and other companies that Greenpeace had been sharply critical of in the past.

What’s changed? Several big data center operators have gotten religion, committing themselves to using clean energy throughout their facilities. They’re dragging power utilities along by creating demand for renewable power, which n turn prompts the utilities to create new sources of clean energy. Read more

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