Northwest Hydropower News

Dam relicensing funding is boon to kayakers at popular Spokane River rapid

By Rich Landers
The Spokesman-Review

Kayakers are enjoying ritzy new facilities at Trailer Park Wave.

A $480,000 access to the Spokane River geared especially for nonmotorized paddlers, floaters and anglers has been completed by Avista Utilities downstream from Post Falls Dam.

The site includes parking for five vehicles, a vault toilet and a paved trail kayakers can use to carry their boats safely down to the river. Read more

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Dam problems force release of 50,000 fish from Leaburg hatchery

By Christian Wihtol

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has implemented an emergency early transfer of more than 50,000 trout from its Leaburg hatchery into Willamette Valley fishing spots because of the problems at the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie River, ODFW said Monday.

Due to mechanical problems, two of the dam’s three gates are stuck in the closed position, letting little water through; the third gate is open, allowing water through. EWEB has said it does not want to raise or lower the third gate by very much because it does not want to risk that gate also malfunctioning. Read more

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Carbon emissions continue decline

By Phuong Le, Associated Press
The Spokesman-Review

Greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, according to the latest figures released by the state.

The latest data show about 91.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide or its equivalent was released in 2011, compared to about 96.1 million metric tons the year before.

Emissions are on a downward trend but still about 4 percent higher than in 1990. Read more

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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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