Northwest Hydropower News

Hydro Research Foundation Fellowship Application Open

HRF FellowsThe Hydro Research Foundation is leading the Research Awards Program designed to stimulate new student research and academic interest in conventional or pumped storage hydropower. The awards are made possible by a grant from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Click here for more information and application, which is due March 14th, 2016.

In 2016, the Foundation anticipates making one-year awards to between 4-10 students. Students are selected based on research vision, innovation, academic performance, potential for leadership and overall strength of their research proposal. Each award typically includes the following:

  • A living stipend of up to $18,000.
  • A tuition, fees and university-provided health insurance allowance of up to $10,000.
  • Travel costs to attend the Annual Hydro Research Roundtable each year the student is in the program.
  • The student’s academic advisor for the research will be awarded $2,000 annually into a University discretionary account, for aiding in, and supervising the research. The advisor may also have the opportunity to attend HydroVision International.
  • Each student may have the opportunity to participate in an internship with an industry partner. These internships may result in employment for the researcher.
  • Each student will have an industry mentor and a Foundation mentor.
  • The foundation will assist the student in finding employment in the hydropower community.
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New Grant PUD Visitor Center Opens

Grant PUD’s new visitor center, The Power of the Columbia River, opened December 1st.

Located adjacent to Wanapum Dam, about seven miles south of the Vantage Bridge, The Power of the Columbia River provides an opportunity for visitors of all ages to experience firsthand how Grant PUD operates its dams on the Columbia. Displays highlight the balancing act between hydropower, fish passage, recreation, and natural resource management.

There are many interactive exhibits within the 2,000 square foot facility that allow visitors to travel through time as they see how the Columbia River shaped Grant County. A theater features several videos that describe how the Columbia Basin was formed and how Wanapum Dam works. Visitors will also generate their own electricity, learn about fish in the river, as well as where to enjoy recreation along the Columbia River.

“We want this to be a center where schools, families and members of the community can visit and use as an educational resource,” said Grant PUD Commission President Dale Walker.

The visitor center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday in October through April and open daily (including Saturday, Sunday and holidays) in May through September. The Power of the Columbia River is located south of Interstate 90 on Highway 243. Once on Highway 243, head south and follow the highway for approximately 4 miles and then turn onto Wanapum Dam Road. Admission is free. The center is a component of Grant PUD’s federal license requirements to provide educational opportunities and access to customers.

For further information, contact Chuck Allen at (509) 754-5035, publicaffairs@gcpud.org.

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Columbia Basin breaking records for returning fall chinook salmon

By George Plaven
Seattle Times

PENDLETON, Ore. — The Columbia Basin’s 2015 salmon season is the second-strongest year since the federal dams were built nearly 80 years ago.

A record number of fall chinook salmon returned up the Columbia River past McNary Dam in 2015, continuing on to spawning grounds at Hanford Reach, the Snake River and Yakima Basin.

More than 456,000 of the fish were counted at McNary Dam, breaking the facility’s previous record of 454,991 set in 2013. An estimated 200,000 fall chinook made it back to Hanford Reach, the most since hydroelectric dams were first built on the Columbia nearly 80 years ago. Read more

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New visitor center opens at Wanapum Dam

By Staff
Tri City Herald

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EWEB commits up to $750,000 to land trust hoping to manage 260 forested acres along McKenzie River

The Eugene Water & Electric Board voted unanimously Monday to commit up to $750,000 toward the restoration and future management of 260 forested acres along both sides of the McKenzie River that a local land trust is seeking to purchase.

EWEB commissioners said the funding to the McKenzie River Trust would be a wise investment as it protects water quality on the waterway — the utility’s sole source of drinking water — and potentially could help reduce its costs to secure a new operating license for its largest hydroelectric generation project farther upriver. Read more

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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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Feds Release Plan For Recovering Snake River Salmon

By Staff
Herald and News

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft plan Monday for recovering threatened Snake River fall chinook salmon – fish that have to pass eight Columbia and Snake River dams to reach their spawning grounds.In the past, nearly a half million of these fish returned to the Snake River each year. But with overfishing, dam construction and habitat loss, those numbers dropped to just a few hundred by 1992, when the fish were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 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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Critics of Snake River dams say it’s time to tear them down

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, The Associated Press
Yakima Press

SPOKANE — The issue of breaching four giant dams on the Snake River to help endangered salmon runs has percolated in the Northwest for decades, but the idea has gained new momentum.

After renewed political pressure to remove the dams, people who oppose the structures gathered Oct. 3 on the Snake River in up to 200 boats. They unfurled a giant banner that said, “Free The Snake.”

“The groundswell that is occurring right now to remove the four dams is like nothing I’ve seen since 1998,” said Sam Mace, director of an anti-dam group called Save Our Wild Salmon. Read more

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