Northwest Hydropower News

Small Hydro Legislation Signed By President Obama

By Staff

Last week, President Obama had a rare moment where he signed legislation passed by both houses in Congress – two bills make it easier to develop small hydropower in the US.

They streamline the process for generating more energy from existing dams, canals and other structures – no new construction required.

The bills are the first significant piece of energy legislation to come out of Congress since the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will further diversify US energy sources.  Read more

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What if everyone plugs in their cars at once?

By Sandi Doughton
Seattle Times

RICHLAND — Electric cars account for fewer than 0.05 percent of passenger vehicles in the United States today, but Michael Kintner-Meyer envisions a future where plug-ins rule the roads.

The proliferation of electric cars will bring benefits — like lower tailpipe emissions — ­but could also create unique headaches, says Kintner-Mayer, who leads a project at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to improve the vehicles and tackle the problems.

Now, he and his colleagues have crafted a solution to the scenario that gives power-grid operators nightmares: The prospect that millions of Americans will get home from work and plug in their cars at the same time.

“It would create havoc,” said Kintner-Meyer. “You could have the lights go out. You could have rolling brownouts.” Read more

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EWEB could pull plug on Trail Bridge hydro plant

By Staff
McKenzie River Reflections

MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) — MCKENZIE BRIDGE: Changes in the power market will likely impact plans for major upgrades at the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s Trail Bridge Dam. As part of an ongoing process to renew a federal license to operate the Carmen Smith hydropower facility, the utility had proposed building a screen at the dam to prevent downstream migrating fish from going through turbine blades. Because water levels in the reservoir formed by the dam fluctuate on a daily basis, the screen would be more complex than the blocking devices currently in use at EWEB’s other projects. Recent estimates put the price tag for a “floating” fish screen in the neighborhood of $45 million. Read more

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Warm Springs tribes, ODFW try to resurrect Hood River’s spring chinook run

By Scott Learn
The Oregonian

PARKDALE — As salmon streams go, Hood River faces some unique challenges: glacial gullywashers from Mount Hood, heavy irrigation withdrawals for Oregon’s top fruit orchards and a once hardy population of spring chinook that scientists figure was wiped out four decades ago.

But the Powerdale Dam came down in 2010, improving prospects for young salmon migrating downstream. Investment in the basin has spiked, part of a 2008 accord between four Columbia River tribes and the Bonneville Power Administration.

And early signs are that Hood River spring chinook, which biologists from The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Oregon officials are trying to restore, may be gaining a more secure foothold.  Read more

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Senate passes hydropower development act

By Staff
Bonners Ferry News

U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and John Barrasso (R-WY) on Friday praised the Senate’s unanimous passage of the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act.”

The bill, which already passed the House of Representatives this past April, authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation hydropower development on nearly 47,000 miles of federal canals throughout the West. This will help create jobs in rural communities across the country and provide America with a cheap and clean source of electricity.

“One of the best sources of renewable, clean, energy is hydroelectric,” said Risch. “Signing this bill into law will allow further modernization of conventional water canals, conduit piping, and irrigation ditches with new conduit hydropower technology, thereby expanding hydropower technology in Idaho and other western states. This bill will streamline federal bureaucracy and eliminate red tape. It will also provide great opportunities for Idaho canal companies and irrigation districts to expand agriculture projects, create new jobs, and generate new clean energy. I eagerly await this bill becoming law.”

“Hydropower developers will soon have the certainty they need to create rural jobs and lower electricity prices for American families,” said Barrasso. “Wyoming and other states with many potential Bureau of Reclamation sites will now be able to fully embrace hydropower’s potential. I encourage the President to sign this bill into law immediately. Congress must also continue to come together remove more Washington red tape and clear the way for more American energy development.”

The “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act” will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Read article online

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Ruling: Okanogan PUD must look at aesthetic value of Similkameen Falls

By K.C. Mehaffey
Wenatchee World

OROVILLE — Aesthetics of Similkameen Falls must be considered if the Okanogan County PUD rebuilds the Enloe Dam to generate power, the Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled last week.

The board affirmed the state Department of Ecology’s water quality certification for the project, adding the condition that aesthetic values for both the dam and the falls will be monitored and evaluated if the dam is rebuilt to hold more water.

PUD general manager John Grubich said the utility is reviewing the ruling to determine if it impacts its newly-won license to rebuild the dam, or affects the cost of the project. Read more

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Colvilles celebrate $50 million hatchery

By Becky Kramer
Spokesman Review

BRIDGEPORT, Wash. – Cheers went up when Colville tribal fisherman Mylan Williams hauled a 20-pound chinook out of the Columbia River with a dip net.

Then hats came off in a show of respect. Tribal elders circled the fish and sang, honoring the salmon that gave up its life to feed the people.

For thousands of years, ancestors of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have performed First Salmon ceremonies on the banks of the Columbia. But in recent decades, only a few fish have returned.

The tribe recently celebrated the opening of a $50 million hatchery designed to bolster runs to the Upper Columbia and a tributary, the Okanogan River. Read more

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Energy Northwest tests wind power storage system

By Shannon Dininny
Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. — Researchers in the Pacific Northwest are testing and evaluating a new power storage system that could help store excess electricity generated by the region’s many wind farms.

The system announced Monday at south-central Washington’s Nine Canyon Wind Project includes lithium-ion batteries that can store 500 kilowatt-hours of power – enough energy to meet the demand of about a dozen homes for at least half a day.

That’s a relatively small amount of power compared with the large amount of electricity produced by the region’s growing number of wind turbines. But supporters say it’s a first step toward being able to store renewable energy that is produced when demand is low – say, at night, when most people are sleeping – to be used where it’s most needed during the daytime. Read more

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Global renewable energy growing fast

By Jonathan Fahey
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Renewable energy is growing fast around the world and will edge out natural gas as the second- biggest source of electricity, after coal, by 2016, according to a five-year outlook published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency.

Developing countries are building more wind, solar and hydro-electric power plants to meet rising power demand and combat local pollution problems. And the costs of renewables are falling below the cost of traditional power sources such as coal, natural gas and oil in some markets with high-priced power.

Renewable power, including hydropower, is the fastest-growing power generation sector and it is expected to increase by 40 percent in the next five years. By 2018 it will make up a quarter of the world’s energy mix, according to the report, up from 20 percent in 2011. Read more

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Colville Confederated Tribes opens $51 million Washington fish hatchery

By Associated Press
Yakima Herald Republic

BRIDGEPORT, Wash. — A new fish hatchery that will release nearly 3 million salmon to the wild each year is set to be dedicated today in rural north-central Washington, marking the opening of the first hatchery designed and built under new scientific recommendations intended to boost fish survival rates in the Pacific Northwest.

The $51 million hatchery near Chief Joseph Dam will help to rebuild naturally occurring spawning salmon runs in areas where they were damaged by the construction and operation of Columbia River hydropower dams and allow for the reintroduction of one species — spring chinook — in the Okanogan River, where they were extirpated decades ago.

In turn, the hatchery will boost opportunities for salmon harvests for members of the Colville Confederated Tribes, who retain fishing rights in the region but have seen the supply of fish dwindle with construction of the dams, and for sport fishing. Read more

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