District Court’s ruling hurts electric ratepayers

Recently, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden rejected a plan by federal officials to limit summer spill programs on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 3:25am
  • Opinion

Recently, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden rejected a plan by federal officials to limit summer spill programs on the Columbia and Snake rivers. He told the Seattle Times he didn’t want anyone to think that he ignored the interests of the region’s electric ratepayers, but in reality, Judge Redden’s ruling ignores both the ratepayers and the facts.

Currently, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) spends $77 million a year on spill programs to save threatened fall Chinook salmon. What is “spill?” In spill, water is routed away from the dam’s energy producing turbines where some fish can be killed or injured and sends it – and the fish – through a spillway door in the dam to the river below. When spill happens in July and August, it’s called “summer spill.”

However, recent studies have shown that because spill diverts water that would otherwise be used to produce electricity, it is the single most expensive fish conservation method ever devised. And summer spill is one of the least effective, because most of the threatened Chinook are far downstream by the time it’s implemented in July and August.

To address these problems, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other agencies proposed to limit summer spill during August on the Ice Harbor, John Day, Dalles and Bonneville dams. Their studies acknowledged that reducing spill would kill 100 to 900 young Snake River fall Chinook; but the agencies proposed spending $9.6 million on mitigation measures they said would increase Chinook populations by 700 to 1,100 fish. (To put these numbers in perspective, 384,000 adult fish returned to the rivers last year.)

The BPA said the extra power it would be able to sell under the NMFS plan would allow it to cut charges to Northwest household and commercial ratepayers by $18 million to $28 million. Still, Judge Redden rejected the plan. Had he not ruled as he did, the dams would have generated the extra power starting in August.

But help may be on the way. U.S. Attorney Fred Disheroon said the federal government may seek an emergency appeal to withdraw the court order and thereby reactivate the plan. That would be good news for job providers and families. Hopefully, Disheroon will keep his promise and the court will act swiftly.

Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington Business.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray’s research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India. She is a resident of Kirkland.
How chips define the evolving world order | Guest column

Semiconductor chips are the new oil that the world can go to war over.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Cartoon by Frank Shiers

Cartoon by Frank Shiers… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com.
My bold New Year’s resolutions – late, as usual | Whale

I was born late — exactly three weeks — despite my mother’s… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
For some state lawmakers, short session is all about re-election | Roegner

The Washington state Legislature opened on Jan. 10 against a backdrop of… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Jan. 6, 2021: A date that will live in infamy | Guest column

Jan. 6, 2021. Sadly, for most Americans, that date has become one… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Are we driving more recklessly during the pandemic? | Roegner

Have you noticed — pre-snowstorm — more people taking chances with reckless… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com
Don’t fool yourself: COVID’s tentacles are long enough to reach even you | Robert Whale

From March 2020 until recently, it seemed to me that COVID-19 always… Continue reading

Most Read