Today, the Orcas Power and Light Cooperative board of directors unanimously rescinded a resolution passed last September in which the board expressed its opposition to removal of four lower Snake River dams as well as the now ongoing Washington stakeholder process that is exploring the social and economic implications of possible dam removal.
Confronted with an outpouring of concern by member-owners who felt that the board’s passage of the resolution lacked adequate public input and consideration of relevant facts, the board agreed to reconsider the resolution. Then, after consultation community members, fish and wildlife experts, and the NW Energy Coalition, the board unanimously voted to withdraw the September resolution, while noting its intention to continue examining concerns some members have about electric system adequacy and reliability in the event the dams are removed.
At the NW Energy Coalition, we’re very pleased by the board’s decision because it reflects a recognition by board members that salmon and orca extinction is a real threat and that proposed solutions to the challenges posed by dam removal warrant serious consideration. We, like the OPALCO board, believe that any actions taken to restore salmon and orca populations must also guarantee continued access to reliable and affordable clean energy for the region. The Energy Strategies “Lower Snake River Power Replacement Study”, released by the Coalition last year, showed that’s possible. We are grateful to the OPALCO staff and board for reaching out to the Coalition to discuss the study and we hope it was useful in helping them come to this very welcome decision.
The Coalition also congratulates the many OPALCO member-owners and San Juan County organizations that mobilized to ensure their utility’s position on the issue of salmon and orca restoration and dam removal reflects the community’s values.