Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative issued a press release Wednesday afternoon criticizing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s endorsement of removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Southeastern Washington.
OTEC, which is based in Baker City, buys its wholesale electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that markets power from more than two dozen dams, including the four that Brown cited in a recent letter.
OTEC’s press release referred to Brown’s letter as “stunning.”
OTEC officials are “extremely disappointed with Governor Kate Brown’s stunning decision to support the removal of the four lower Snake River dams,” said Joseph E. Hathaway, the cooperative’s communications coordinator.
The press release notes that Brown, in a Feb. 11 letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in which Brown endorsed the removal of the dams, wrote the letter while the Oregon Legislature is debating a bill that is designed to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.
“Governor Brown supports a course of action that is estimated to increase CO2 emissions by over 2 million metric tons — every year,” the press release reads. “Governor Brown’s decision to remove the Snake River dams completely contradicts and undermines the State of Oregon’s claim they are serious about carbon reduction and also undermines the integration of renewables onto our transmission grid, as the federal hydro system is flexible, carbon-free and complements intermittent resources such as wind and solar power. The Governor’s call could have dangerous consequences for our mission to provide the nearly 60,000 residents of Baker, Grant, Harney and Union counties with competitively priced electricity.”
In her letter to Inslee, Brown contested the contention that removing the four dams was contrary to a goal of reducing carbon emissions.
“This can be done while preserving the foundation of the low cost, carbon-free hydropower system that has helped fuel Oregon’s economy for the last century, and will help us to integrate more wind and solar to achieve our long-term climate goals,” Brown wrote.
The governor wrote that she supported the removal of the dams because doing so would help restore salmon and steelhead runs as well as help killer whales in the ocean that depend on salmon for food.
“The science is clear that removing the earthen portions of the four lower Snake River dams is the most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery,” Brown wrote.