United States

United States

Better than dams

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The Northwest Energy Coalition, a group of environmental, utility and community organisations, wants the federal government to partially remove four Lower Snake River hydroelectric projects and replace the power with conservation and clean energy. The dams in question are the primary cause of salmon declines in the Northwest, the coalition says.

Recommending dam removal is the result of a consensus vote and not all individual members would necessarily vote in favour, says the coalition's Mark Glyde, but the utility members did not object to the position as a whole. The Northwest has more energy conservation available -- at or below the market price of power produced by the dams -- the coalition notes. In addition, renewable energy sources such as wind and geothermal are available for a modest premium over the market price.

Public policies giving utilities incentives for investing in energy conservation and renewable energy would help provide for salmon restoration and clean energy, the coalition argues. A lot of debate and discussion led to the resolution, adds Glyde. "Clearly what we are saying is dam removal has to go hand-in-hand with clean energy."

The coalition is now working with the Natural Resources Defense Council on a study comparing the cost of conservation and clean energy with market prices.

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