Manager’s Message – Manager’s Message

Dear Members,

Libby Calnon“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” This proverb recognizes that insistence on perfection often prevents implementation of improvements.

When I look at the affordable, reliable and clean energy we deliver to our members, I think about this proverb and how it applies to our hydropower system.

We rely on electricity for health, security and economic prosperity. Dams also provide flood protection and irrigation and allow for barging of agricultural goods.

Because of hydropower, the Pacific Northwest has the most affordable clean energy in the nation and the lowest carbon footprint of any region in the United States.

Can improvements be made? Absolutely, and that work happens every day. But some in our region would prefer to see our dams removed. This extreme measure would have far-ranging impacts—including significant electric rate increases for
3 million residents—and could lead to life-threatening blackouts during heat waves and cold snaps.

I love providing affordable, reliable and clean energy to our community, and I don’t want that to change. I don’t want our electric rates to soar, and I don’t want us to suffer blackouts. These things could happen if we don’t have enough generation to meet the growing demand for electricity.

I want to see new, clean energy resources developed. A broad portfolio of generation options will benefit us, especially as we electrify our transportation system and switch to electric heat for all homes. Changes like these will greatly increase our use of electricity.

I want to see healthy and abundant salmon populations. Improvements have allowed salmon returns in the Columbia River basin to reach levels similar to those seen on undammed rivers on the West Coast.

That said, salmon are struggling almost everywhere, as ocean warming caused by climate change represents an existential threat. Fighting climate change, addressing predation and addressing overharvest in the ocean are critical steps we must take to continue to support salmon populations.

Removing the dams on the lower Snake River may seem like a perfect solution to some advocacy groups, but it is a step in the wrong direction for addressing climate change. What they refuse to see is that as coal power continues to be retired, hydropower provides us with carbon-free energy when the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining. It’s reliable, flexible, affordable and clean.

The Biden administration recently acknowledged the value of hydro in its report “On the Path to 100% Clean Energy.” The report recognizes hydro as our region’s most abundant energy source and highlights our reliance on it during times of need.

If you are concerned about grid reliability and avoiding blackouts, the dams are worth fighting for. If you want to address climate change for salmon and for people, dams are required for our clean energy infrastructure. If you’re concerned about food insecurity or the burden of increased rates on our community, dams must be a piece of the solution.

Any way you look at it, the lower Snake River dams are paramount for our future.

Libby Calnon
General Manager