Coalition analyzes spill test effects on electricity consumers’ bills

The NW Energy Coalition has released a pair of fact sheets addressing regional salmon scientists’ proposed experiment to measure survival gains from spilling more water over federal hydropower dams to aid the ocean-bound migration of Columbia Basin endangered wild salmon than is now required by the federal court. Court-ordered spill has increased returns of adult fish, and many regional scientists have concluded that additional spill could raise those returns even further – potentially to recovery levels for some of the endangered stocks.

  • Enhanced spill: Consumer bills and CO2 emissions compares the effect of expanded spill on consumer electric rates and bills and on greenhouse gas emissions. It does so by comparison with a much greater hydrosystem change: removal of the four lower Snake River dams. The region’s official power planning agency – Northwest Power and Conservation Council analyzed the effects of lower Snake River dam removal (coupled with a reduction in coal-fired power) and found that wholesale rates might rise slightly but consumer/residential bills still would go down from current levels due to high, ongoing achievements in energy efficiency. Regional carbon emissions could be minimally affected depending on the amount and type of replacement power.
  • The rule of thumb fact sheet shows how a potential $100 million reduction in Bonneville Power revenues (or equal increase in costs) as the result of a spill experiment would affect Northwest utility customers. Because of the size of BPA’s budget and the fact that power costs are responsible for only half of a typical customer’s bill, bill payers would hardly notice the change. Customers of utilities that get no power from Bonneville would not be affected at all.