United Electric – Call to Action!

As many of you know by now, Washington Senator Murray and Governor Inslee have released a preliminary report on ways to mitigate removal of the Lower Snake River Dams (LSRDs). United Electric is disappointed that the report focused on dam removal and neglected to fully consider the far-reaching consequences that removing the LSRDs will have on the region’s communities, including Mini-Cassia, that are served by non-profit, cooperatives like United Electric.

The Lower Snake River Dams are an essential source of clean, reliable, renewable and affordable hydropower generation for millions of households in the Northwest. The four lower Snake River dams – Ice Harbor, Lower Monument, Little Goose and Lower Granite – are a part of the Federal Columbia River Power System, the largest source of clean electricity in the region.

These four dams alone produce well over 2,000 MW of sustained winter peaking capacity of clean, reliable, carbon-free energy.

We need your help to provide a strong, member driven response to this effort to breach the LSRDs. You can help by submitting comments to our Idaho congressional delegation. Your comment will also be delivered to the Murray-Inslee study project. An easy-to-use comment form is available online at the following link: LSRD Comment Form. We anticipate that several national and regional organizations with various interests will be mobilizing their member networks across the country to provide comments.  We encourage an equally strong public power response. Comments should be submitted by July 11, 2022.

Below are a few key points about the LSRDs and the Murray-Inslee report that you may use with your comments:

  • During recent extreme weather and operational events, the LSRDs played an irreplaceable role in avoiding or reducing the magnitude and duration of blackouts. There was no evident alternative source for the electricity supplied by the LSRDs in the report. LSRDs reduced the magnitude and duration of blackouts outside the region too, particularly in California.
  • The risks of extreme electricity prices and blackouts are the highest they have been since the Western Energy Crisis took place 20 years ago – and removing the LSRDs dramatically increases the risk of soaring prices and blackouts. A number of recent developments have led to an electric grid that is the most vulnerable and strained it has been since the Western Energy Crisis.
  • Removal of the LSRDs may prove to be the tipping point, nudging the Northwest system into acute scarcity of electric supply. The Federal hydro system, and particularly the LSRDs, are in a critical position of maintaining grid reliability and preventing blackouts in the West.
  • Replacing the LSRDs will take decades, and available technological options cannot provide the same combination of low cost, reliable and flexible attributes.
  • Removing the LSRDs will make the transition to the clean energy goals more difficult.  The report fails to analyze the energy-related CO2 implications of removing the LSRDs. Natural gas will likely need to replace generation of the LSRDs in the near term, increasing carbon emissions and delaying a zero-carbon grid by years.  Even if the LSRDs could be replaced with wind and solar, there will be no net reduction in carbon emissions.
  • Losing the LSRDs could increase consumer electricity rates by 25% or more. Replacing the generating capabilities of the LSRDs alone would cost at least $15 billion under a carbon-free future.  This type of financial hardship threatens to irreparably harm the vulnerable communities we serve.
  • The outcome of this effort may impact the fate of the remainder of the Federal Columbia River Power System. No assurance has been offered that the remaining Federal projects are protected if the LSRDs are removed. And it is not clear that, absent an act of Congress, such protections are possible.