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September/October 2003 Presidential Recognition, Renewable Power

September/October  2003

Presidential Recognition

“We can have good, clean hydroelectric power and salmon restoration going on at the same time.” - George W. Bush, August 22, 2003

During his stop at Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River near Tri Cities, President George W. Bush specifically praised the work done by Douglas and Chelan County Public Utility Districts on new Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) for salmon and steelhead survival.

Ten years in the making, the HCPs commit Douglas and Chelan PUDs to a 50-year program to ensure their three hydroelectric projects on the Mid-Columbia River have “no net impact” on salmon and steelhead runs. The number of Upper Columbia River steelhead and spring chinook salmon migrating past the dams should be about the same as in a natural river. We are accomplishing this through a combination of project survival enhancements, off-site hatchery programs and habitat restoration work in the Mid-Columbia tributary streams. The dams will continue to generate clean, renewable hydropower.

The end of the long HCP process is in sight. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans has signed the Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) for the hydroelectric projects on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  If everything goes according to plan, the next step is for NOAA to sign the ITPs for the hatchery programs.  Then, applications for license amendments will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see how the HCPs might affect other species.  Finally, FERC will issue the amendments to the hydroelectric projects’ licenses. 

 Renewable Power

Currently, Douglas PUD receives output from Energy Northwest’s Nine Canyon Wind Project, located approximately 8 miles southeast of Kennewick.  The Nine Canyon Wind Project started commercial production on September 25, 2002. The second phase of the Nine Canyon Wind Project is scheduled to be in commercial production by early 2004.  When Phase II is in commercial production, Douglas PUD’s share of the Nine Canyon Wind Project output will be 15.4%.  In total, there will be 49 - 1.3 Megawatt wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 63.7 Megawatts.

In addition, the District has been investigating the possibility of locating a wind power project in Douglas County.

The cost of wind power from the Nine Canyon project is in the range of 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. This cost is melded with Wells Hydroelectric Project power that typically costs less than 1 cent per kilowatt-hour.  Some utilities offer voluntary programs for customers to support new renewable generation. The per-kilowatt-hour cost of these programs is typically much higher than Douglas PUD’s current wind power initiatives. Do you think Douglas PUD should institute a voluntary program to support various new renewable generation projects?