The high cost of tearing down the Snake River Dams

By TODD MYERS  | 
POLICY NOTES
|
Mar 21, 2017

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Key Findings

  1. The Snake River Dams provide about eight percent of the state of Washington’s electricity, an amount equivalent to all wind and solar production throughout Washington state.
  2. The annual average value of electricity created from the Snake River Dams is 8.37 million megawatt hours with a value of $293.1 million.
  3. To replace the Snake River Dams, the estimated cost per year would be $153.9 million more for a natural gas replacement and $162.2 million more for wind electricity.
  4. Since replacements for hydro cost more, without the Snake River Dams, it would cost millions more to reduce carbon from natural gas or wind. 

Introduction

As the debate about the future of the Snake River Dams continues, much of the environmental focus has been on the impact to salmon.  There are other environmental considerations, however.  Significantly, the dams provide about eight percent of Washington’s electricity – an amount equivalent to all wind and solar production in Washington state.

I recently gave a presentation that encapsulates the analyses in my article published in The Idaho Law Review.  My article analyzes the cost of replacing the carbon-free energy from the dams and the impact it would have on intermittent sources of carbon-free energy like wind.

For the complete argument and analysis, read “The Environmental Tradeoffs of Removing Snake River Dams,” in The Idaho Law Review.  A summary of my presentation is below.

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