Northwest Hydropower News

Pumped-storage dream: tiny Washington state utility makes big pitch

By Pete Danko
Breaking Energy

Randy Knowles figures he’s moving in the right direction. “They used to call me crazy,” he said with a self-effacing chuckle. “Now they’re calling me audacious.”

For well over a decade, the Klickitat (Washington) Public Utility District commissioner has promoted building a big pumped storage project off-stream from the Columbia River at the John Day Dam, 110 miles upriver from Portland, Oregon. Now, after years of holding a preliminary permit to study the possibility, the district is moving to obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Read more

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Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

By Phuong Le, The Associated Press
Yakima Herald

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

The aerospace company and the utility, Puget Sound Energy, said the plan will move the Renton factory near Seattle toward an all-renewable energy mix. Read more

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PUD imposes moratorium amid boom in power requests for data centers

By Christine Pratt
Wenatchee World

A unprecedented boom in applications to the Chelan County PUD for large amounts of power for upstart server farms is threatening the business model the utility has depended on to keep rates low for decades and provide additional services, like parks and fiber-optics.

“It’s been a very busy year… we typically aren’t used to this,” John Stoll, the PUD’s managing director of customer utilities told commissioners Monday, shortly before the board approved a moratorium on applications for large amounts of power. Read more

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Wanapum Dam stable after reservoir hits elevation target

By Christine Pratt
Wenatchee World

The Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam hit its targeted 17-foot elevation increase 10 days ahead of schedule, but the shoreline remains closed, Grant County PUD officials said Tuesday. Read more

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Warm water in Pacific could cook Idaho’s salmon and steelhead

By Rocky Barker
Idaho Statesman

History says the situation could be disastrous for Idaho’s salmon and steelhead.

A mass of warm water thousands of square miles in size that was five degrees Fahrenheit above average on the surface last summer is being called “the blob.” But scientists say it’s too early to tell if it’s short-term phenomena or a sign of a longer trend. Read more

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Idaho sockeye salmon success could be blueprint

by Keith Ridler
The Seattle Times

Strategies used to bring back from the brink of extinction a population of central Idaho sockeye salmon have been so successful they could be used as a blueprint to prevent other extinctions, fisheries biologists say. Read more

 

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Cowlitz River Coho return sets record

The News Tribune

A little after 8 a.m. at the Cowlitz River Salmon Hatchery, about 800 coho idle in a narrow concrete channel impatiently leaping at the stainless steel grate barring their journey upriver.

“It’s kind of slow up here right now. A little while ago we had 2,500 or 3,000 fish per day,” said Hatchery Coordinator Jamie Murphy.

Although there are still several months remaining before the last fish returns, officials are already calling this a historic year for hatchery coho salmon returns.

Mark LaRiviere, senior fishery biologist for Tacoma Power, said “this year we broke an all-time record.” Read more

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Wanapum Dam repairs will continue into 2015

By Cheryl Schweizer
Seattle Times

Grant County PUD officials should start raising the water behind Wanapum Dam sometime before the end of 2014. Construction work to repair a cracked spillway pillar and stabilize the rest of the dam is expected to last through March or April 2015. Read more

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PacifiCorp’s defection pressures Northwest utilities to get their act together on energy imbalance market

By Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian

PacifiCorp this week trumpeted the kick-off of its participation in an “energy imbalance market” with California’s independent grid operator.

It was the kind of announcement that only a utility wonk could love. Yet if it works as planned – and there were some initial glitches – it could save PacifiCorp customers between $10 million and $65 million a year while improving the reliability of the grid, reducing emissions and enabling the use of far more renewable energy.

In short, it was a no brainer, a precursor to the kind of “smart grid” transformation that power planners have been talking about for decades, but have largely failed to deliver. Read more

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Sea lions may be killing more salmon than estimated, NOAA study says

By The Associated Press
The Oregonian

Sea lions may be killing more returning salmon at the mouth of the Columbia River than previously thought, according to research on fish survival.

Preliminary research by NOAA Fisheries shows a steady increase in fish mortality over a five-year period that may be attributable to seals and sea lions, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council said.

A NOAA researcher presented numbers Tuesday to a council committee meeting in Portland, The Daily News reported.

The average spring Chinook salmon survival in 2014 at Bonneville Dam was just 55 percent, down from 69 percent in 2013 and 82 percent in 2012. Read more

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