Washington, D.C. – “I have been a proponent of hydroelectric power since I first came to Congress. It is one of the best energy sources we have—clean, reliable, renewable baseload generation that is more valuable than ever as we seek to reduce carbon emissions in the electricity sector. For years, I have supported policies to promote, increase, and support our hydroelectric resources. From reforming our licensing processes to making it easier to install new generation and supporting continued research and development into technological advances for new waterpower technologies.
“The four Lower Snake River dams are at the heart of the endless litigation in the Northwest and if they are removed, my framework calls for protection of all other hydroelectric assets in the region. Upon the breaching of the fourth dam in 2031, all public and private FERC licensed dams in the Columbia River Basin greater than 5 megawatts that have produced power for sale in 3 of the last 5 years would receive an automatic 35-year extension of their license in addition to their currently licensed period. This would eliminate the fear that removing the four Lower Snake River dams will create a “slippery slope” which would create momentum to remove other mainstem Columbia River Dams.
“I understand how difficult it is to fathom a hydro supporter proposing to take out dams. I want to make it clear that I did not come to this position lightly, and that a key tenet of my proposal is that we must replace, or “make whole” the CLEAN power generation lost by the removal of the dams. The replacement generation would also need to be built and online by 2030, before any of the dams were breached.
“Specifically, the framework includes $10 billion toward energy replacement that the Bonneville Power Association (BPA) or another entity would use to award funding for projects like renewable to battery storage, pump storage, hydrogen storage, small modular reactors, increased transmission capacity, demand response, energy efficiency or any other means as determined by BPA and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. These projects could be sited throughout the Northwest for optimized efficiency. As former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, I am very familiar with several exciting new technologies that could be eligible for these projects.
“Finally, if the four Lower Snake River dams are removed, communities must be protected with certain resources for new missions and infrastructure. Further demonstrating this plan’s commitment to replacing the clean energy that would be removed by the dams, my framework calls for the creation of a Snake River Center for Advanced Energy Storage to be hosted at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This would be a $1.25 billion Department of Energy led program with a mission to develop advanced energy storage methods to capture abundant Northwest hydro, wind and solar on a system-wide basis.
“The Pacific Northwest is known for its abundant clean energy resources, and I believe this proposal would both protect that legacy and preserve it for future generations. It will end the endless salmon litigation and provide certainty and security to all stakeholders on their own terms.”