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Bipartisan Hirst fix passes Legislature January 19, 2018
Breaching the dam is a better option than doing nothing...only if larger agencies can assume the risk. If this can be developed by standing up to the agencies that are directly or indirectly forcing this onto the Okanogan ratepayers, then this is the best option. However, state laws exist that denote how much "risk" a utility can assume will come to bear. Currently, if the dam is not electrified, the PUD will have to begin to pay into a "breaching fund" which the ratepayers cannot afford. The ratepayers cannot afford to to build the dam or pay into a breaching fund...so another solution has to be found that addresses the "risk" of the sediment, and the cost of breaching. Doing nothing without the liability is worth pursuing, as well as moving the risks to other agencies with more budget. Another option is find out if the sediment is really "toxic" or has it been politically defined as toxic. In total, all avenues have to be explored.
There is no business case to generate power. Breaching the dam is not practical because the county would have to set aside money each year until enough is collected to pay for the breaching...the county ratepayers cannot afford this. Of the current proposals, having a 3rd Party assume the risk to generate power is the best course of action. The best solution is to challenge the Department of Ecology to drop the requirement to remove the dam and the sediment. There is no compelling reason to remove "anything" accept by the Department of Ecology. The county needs to just say "NO". If this hasn't been tried or attempted, it should be the next step. I don't see this as one of the choices...sometimes one simply has to have the courage to stand up to the big boys...who live like bullies behind a bluff. Call the bluff...do nothing. :)
It is clear that hydroelectric power is a clean and renewable resource. Whether the government recognizes it as renewable or not, all logical people realize that the our rivers are renewed each year with water from the snowmelt in the Cascades. The Pacific Northwest dams are currently producing a surplus of power based on a wet Spring and high rainfall. There is so much surplus hydro power that the Wind Farms will likely be shutdown. This will cost the Wind Farm owners millions in lost revenue during the down time. Let’s fast forward to an Enloe Dam supported by the Okanogan County ratepayers. It has not been properly demonstrated by the PUD that the Enloe Dam project has a positive Net Present Value. A third party analysis has stated that the project will never turn a profit. This claim has never been refuted by the PUD. There are at least two major reasons why this project, and all of the related budget expenditures should be put on hold. First, if a positive NPV cannot be demonstrated and Bonneville has a continuing surplus of electricity, there is not a business case to proceed with the project. It will only continue to bleed the ratepayers with high rates. These high rates are a poison pill to the economic recovery potential within the County. Higher electric rates are compounded costs passed on to all consumers directly and indirectly. Okanogan County cannot afford the risk associated with this high cost project. The $5.4 million dollars in the 2014 budget is a slap in the face for the county ratepayers.
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