LONGVIEW, Wash. — Officials expect a $60 million energy conservation project at the Norpac paper mill in Longview will make it more competitive and save electricity for the region.
The Daily News reports (http://is.gd/wo4QSe) the new equipment celebrated at a ribbon-cutting Thursday will reduce the amount of energy used at the mill, which is jointly owned by Weyerhaeuser and Nippon Paper Industries of Japan.
Weyerhaeuser is financing $35 million of the project. The Cowlitz PUD is contributing $4 million and the Bonneville Power Administration $21 million. They say the improvements at the mill will save low-cost hydropower and reduce the utility’s need to buy more-expensive energy. Read more.
By Chenfei Zhang
WASHINGTON – The nation could get new electricity from old dams, saving time and money compared to damming new streams, under a bill that passed the House unanimously this week.
The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and praised by one environmental watchdog group, would speed up the licensing of projects that retrofit existing dams and pipelines.
Building new hydropower dams can be harmful to rivers, Matthew Rice of American Rivers said, but “this bill considers more than just increased megawatts.”
Just 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams are designed for hydropower, but almost 70 percent have the potential to generate electricity, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy. Different dams could be retrofitted to generate between 1 megawatt and 500 megawatts. Read more.
By Becky Kramer
Nearly 50 years ago, Canada and the United States shook hands over a groundbreaking accord that altered life in the Northwest.
The Columbia River Treaty turned the 1,200-mile-long river and its tributaries into an electrical powerhouse, producing more kilowatts than any other North American river system.
As a result of the treaty, three large storage dams in British Columbia and Montana’s Libby Dam were built to boost downstream hydropower production, fueling the Northwest’s supply of cheap electricity. The storage dams also held back the spring runoff that had caused destructive flooding.
“Even though it’s not commonly known, the treaty really runs the lives of everyone in the Northwest,” said Suzanne Skinner, executive director of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy in Seattle. “It’s the fulcrum, or balancing point, for everything we want from the river.” Read more.
By Christian Wihtol
COTTAGE GROVE — After nearly a decade of planning, an energy company has begun building a powerhouse to generate electricity from water flowing at Dorena Dam southeast of Cottage Grove.
The work began in late June and is expected to take a year.
The power project’s owner is Idaho-based Symbiotics, a branch of Riverbank Power, a privately held Toronto company that’s pursuing hydroelectric projects in the United States, Peru and Chile.
Riverbank Power in mid-May announced that it had secured $38 million in loans to finance the 7.5-megawatt Dorena project and the 4.7-megawatt Clark Canyon hydroelectric project in Montana.
The company has not said how much the Dorena project is costing, but officials at the Emerald People’s Utility District, which until last year was involved in the undertaking, estimated its cost at $20 million. Read more.
By Bill Sheets
EVERETT, Wash. —When an initiative was proposed six years ago to require large utilities to provide energy from renewable sources, supporters said it would do more than just help the environment.
It would spur investment and create jobs, save ratepayers money through conservation and through cheaper power, which in turn would help the economy.
Opponents said it would cost money and jobs by raising utility rates to cover the cost of new, unproven technology that’s more expensive than the economical hydropower prevalent in the region. That hydropower – with its effect on salmon runs aside – is Earth-friendly in that it doesn’t pollute the air and doesn’t have to be mined.
The initiative was supported primarily by environmental groups and opposed by some business groups and utilities in the state. Voters in November 2006 approved I-937 by roughly 52 percent to 48 percent. Read more.
By Bianca Fortis
The Centralia Chronicle
As the last part of a $30 million overhaul of the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery, Tacoma Public Utilities has completed a $481,000 remodel of the hatchery’s visitor center.
The grand opening of the center was last week.
Chris Gleason, the community and media services manager at Tacoma Public Utilities, said the hatchery had a welcome center before the remodeling, but it was outdated and visitors would often leave disappointed.
“We wanted to make this a destination where people will walk away informed, not disappointed,” Gleason said.
The focus of the center is an “interactive survival maze,” in which visitors can track the life cycle of salmon, which are represented by marbles.Read more
By Frank Jordans
GENEVA — Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a U.N. report released Monday.
Investment in solar energy surged to $147 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent thanks to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain.
Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during a fiercely competitive year for the solar industry. Several large American and German manufacturers fell victim to price pressure from Chinese rivals that helped to halve the cost of photovoltaic modules in 2011. Read more.
Are environmental regulations making it more difficult for the Bureau of Reclamation to keep hydropower affordable and reliable? During today’s OnPoint, Michael Connor, commissioner of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the second-largest producer of hydropower in the western United States, discusses regulatory and policy hurdles facing hydropower. He also explains how the Bureau of Reclamation is planning for a possible water crisis in the nation.
By Scott Learn
A U.S. district judge has rejected the Humane Society of the United States’ request for an injunction that would immediately stop killing of California sea lions that eat salmon near Bonneville Dam.
Judge Michael H. Simon denied the injunction in a ruling issued Wednesday. The Humane Society’s lawsuit against the federal government and the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho will still proceed. Read more
By Associated Press
Frustrated that a deal to remove a string of hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in Northern California has stalled, the Hoopa Tribe has petitioned federal authorities to restart the bureaucratic process in hopes it will get the dams out of the river more quickly.
Tribal attorney Tom Schlosser said Tuesday the current agreement is hopelessly bogged down in Congress and going back to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission offers the best chance to open up the river for struggling salmon and to improve water quality. Read more