News: Hydropower

Waterpower Hydro Basics Course lights up new hires

HydroCourseWhat better place for new hires and experienced professionals moving into the hydropower industry to learn “the business” than at the world’s largest hydro conference?

The Waterpower Hydro Basics Course is taking place July 25 – 26 at the HydroVision Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The full conference is July 26-29 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Click here for detailed course information and registration.

This intensive, highly practical course is designed specifically for people new to hydro to quickly gain the industry background they need, and to help persons with limited hydro experience expand their knowledge.

Taught by industry experts from hydropower producers across the country, course work immerses participants in all aspects of the industry. For instance, the physics of waterpower, the basics of electricity and distribution, plant operations, environmental stewardship, navigating the regulatory environment, and communicating hydro’s value.

Randy Stearnes, FWEE’s Board President and Tacoma Public Utilities Community Relations Officer, has been a Hydro Basics Course instructor for several years. “The Hydro Basics lesson plans can help a person new to the hydro industry better understand the work done for the generation of electricity and the successful management of fish, wildlife and recreational resources,” he said.

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Let region renegotiate Columbia River Treaty

By Steve Wright and Matthew Rooney
Spokesman Review

The Columbia River Treaty has been one of the most successful international agreements ever, partly due to the leading role played by regional entities on both sides of the border in its management. It has produced billions of dollars of benefit for American and Canadian residents of the Pacific Northwest, and showed the world how a cross-border river basin could be managed to benefit two countries.

But circumstances have changed, and it is time to modernize the treaty. Renegotiation should begin now, and the United States should not hesitate to provide notice of intent to terminate the applicable treaty provisions to ensure a serious negotiation. Read more

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Electricity project gets boost from Chinese company

By Staff
Spokesman Review

YAKIMA, Wash. – Plans for a proposed $2.5 billion reservoir system to generate power south of Goldendale have found an unlikely partner: a Chinese hydropower company.

The project is billed as a large-scale energy storage facility that could help utilities across the Northwest and California get the most value out of the growing supply of wind and solar power. Read more

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Helena irrigation district looks to produce hydropower

By Associated Press
Seattle Post Intelligencer

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Helena Valley Irrigation District is looking to retrofit its existing pump plant at Canyon Ferry Dam to produce hydropower. Read more

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Yahoo will double size of Quincy operation

By Staff
Spokesman Review

QUINCY – Size matters, right? Just ask Yahoo! Inc., which is about to double the size of its Quincy data center.

Yahoo said Monday it will add about 300,000 square feet and thousands of servers to its 8-year-old Quincy facility. The expansion will double the size of the company’s operation at the junction of Road P NW and Road 11 NW and add an unspecified number of jobs, the company said in a news release. Currently Yahoo in Quincy has 50 employees.

The tech company is expected to break ground this week on 20 acres next to the current facility with a May opening expected for the expansion.

Yahoo will use its energy-efficient “coop” design for the data center expansion, said Pat Boss, spokesman for the Port of Quincy. Resembling a chicken coop, the design uses prefabricated metal boxes with built-in louvers to increase the use of outside air for cooling and reduce the need for electrical fans to pull air into the building. The coop design also speeds construction. Read more

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Revenue soars in Washington town that became data center hub

Associated Press
The Columbian

OLYMPIA — Until about a decade ago, the rural central Washington town of Quincy was perhaps best known for its apples and potatoes.

Then Microsoft and Yahoo began building computer data centers there, drawn partly by the affordable hydropower from the Columbia River. They came, even though the local government provided no property tax breaks.

Soon, other states began trying to lure large data centers, offering to waive sales taxes on the expensive computer equipment and exempt them from property taxes. To keep pace with the competition, Washington lawmakers responded by passing a sales tax exemption for data centers, which it extended again this year.

Quincy, a town of roughly 7,300 people, now also hosts data centers for technology firms Dell and Intuit, as well as developers Sabey and Vantage.

Washington is among several states that declined to disclose to The Associated Press how much tax revenue it has forgone because of its incentives to data centers, but local officials are tracking gains.

Quincy’s property tax collections have quadrupled in the past decade, with more than 70 percent of such revenue coming from data centers. Its sales tax revenue has risen from $665,000 to about $5 million, even with the state tax break. Read more

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Oregon already on the path to meet Obama’s new clean power goals

By Ted Sickinger

Depending on where you live and who you listen to, the Clean Power Plan unveiled by President Obama Monday is either the most significant action on climate change ever undertaken or an economic disaster that will face a tsunami of legal challenges.

In Oregon, it may be more business as usual.

Nationwide, the rules will force overall reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Each state has an individual target based on its existing emissions profile, and is required to submit a plan to achieve that target.

Oregon’s goal under the plan equates to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.  That’s far less stringent than the 48 percent reduction contemplated in last year’s draft rules. The goals apparently changed based on feedback Oregon officials provided after the draft rules were circulated in 2014. Read more

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Environmental issues to be key in Columbia River talks

By Staff
The Columbian

News that U.S. officials plan to seek an update to the Columbia River Treaty with Canada was welcomed by local leaders who have long pushed for its renewal.

Last month, the entire congressional delegation from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana sent a letter urging the Obama administration to begin negotiations this year. That included U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, who reiterated the importance of the landmark agreement in a released statement this week.

“The Columbia River is central to our way of life in Southwest Washington,” Herrera Beutler said. “Pursuing a new Columbia River Treaty with fair and equitable benefits between the United States and Canada is imperative to securing the future benefits the river brings to our communities — affordable, clean hydro energy, flood management, navigation, irrigation, and ecosystem-based management.”

Revising the treaty could have significant implications for Southwest Washington and Clark County. Changing the amount of hydroelectric power sent to Canada each year under the agreement, for example, could impact local ratepayers’ utility bills. Read more

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B.C. reservoirs will help aid Northwest power production, irrigation and fish during drought

By Becky Kramer
Spokesman Review

A robust snowpack in British Columbia will help ease drought conditions in the Northwest this summer.

Three B.C. reservoirs will release additional water into the Columbia River to help migrating salmon, power production, irrigation and barge navigation.

The water releases are part of a “dry year strategy” for the Columbia Basin, which also includes drafting reservoirs behind Grand Coulee and other U.S. storage dams starting in July.

“This is among the worst dry years,” said Steve Barton, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ chief of the Columbia Basin’s water management division. Read more

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CenturyLink leasing hydro-run server farm

By Staff
Spokesman Review

CenturyLink is leasing a hydropowered server farm facility in Moses Lake, the company announced Wednesday.

The sustainability of hydropower drew CenturyLink to the facility, a news release said. What’s more, the site has a very low seismic rating, making it attractive for disaster recovery, the release said.

The 136,000-square-foot facility is owned by Server Farm Realty, a private company. It once was the command and control center for the Titan Missile Defense Program and was built to withstand a 10-megaton bomb, according to Server Farm Realty’s website.

Moses Lake’s high-desert climate also provides for naturally cooled air during many seasons, resulting in further energy savings, the website said. Read more

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