Salmon, Steelhead, and Energy
Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities across Idaho buy power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which is generated at dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The four dams on the Lower Snake River play a major role in driving Idaho’s salmon and steelhead to the brink of extinction.
You may live far from the dams but really, they’re as close as your light switch.
Idaho’s wild salmon are in trouble...
Before the construction of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, millions of adult salmon and steelhead returned to Idaho each year. These fisheries collapsed after the construction of Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite Dams on the lower Snake River in the 1960s and 1970s. Wild fish returns back to Idaho now hover around 10% of the state’s goals for recovery.
...and it’s costing you money
BPA has spent $17.5 billion in the last 25 years on salmon and steelhead recovery, which has not meaningfully improved conditions for Idaho’s fish. That means an average ratepayer is sending 25% of their monthly bill toward fish recovery programs that aren’t working. This isn’t just bad for fish, it’s wasteful federal spending on a grand scale.
BPA is in trouble...
The agency is also $15 billion in debt: capital projects and expensive failures are dead weight on BPA, which is financially independent from the U.S. government. Power prices on the open market have dropped due to a revolution around wind and solar energy, so BPA has increased the rates it charges to electric utilities, like yours: they’ve gone up 30% since 2009.
...and that’s not ending anytime soon
All of the federal dams are in need of major maintenance and overhauls over the next decade. Work at the lower Snake River dams alone is predicted to cost $1 billion. As salmon and steelhead slide toward extinction, BPA may need to fund more fish recovery programs that don’t recover fish, adding billions more in costs. Ratepayers across the region will foot the bill for both.
There’s a better way for energy…
Renewable energy and storage has never been cheaper, and its costs will continue to decline. Idaho utilities can continue to offer power that is affordable and reliable, while investing money back into their communities. Idaho can become energy independent and stop sending money to a Portland-based government bureaucracy.
...and for fish
The simplest, most cost-effective way to restore Idaho’s fish to abundance is breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Revitalized runs of wild salmon and steelhead are a boon for our state, bringing prosperity to economies and ecologies across Idaho.