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Commentaries and editorials

Power, Not Dams

by Brett Crow
Idaho Statesman - July 3, 2005

After starting up, equipment operators know the effects of continuing to operate their equipment -- namely, what would change if the equipment were shut down. Power companies know this, too, because their daily output starts from the potential shutdown baseline of zero production.

Yet this simple fact eludes the Bush administration regarding dams, reservoirs, salmon and power production. Their thinking rests on the essentially false statement that dams are operated, when the fundamental truth is that power plants are operated.

Therefore continued generation effects of existing hydroelectric plants rest on our power-plant shutdown/measurement option, by following the simple and correct logic of equipment operators. These effects, whether beneficial or harmful, rest on our water storage and release option if shutdown occurs, rather than resting on the red herring of dams.

We may already know that potential shutdown baseline, either by specification (Congress intending power production and its water storage as temporary river uses) or by implication (admitting that continued generation obstructs fish passage on every river mile of a reservoir site). In either case the baseline for balancing problems about continued power generation is zero storage, regardless of what we might do with dams to achieve zero storage.

Brett Crow, Boise
Power, Not Dams
Idaho Statesman, July 3, 2005

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