The new head of the Bonneville Power Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Program told Northwest Power and Conservation Council members this week that BPA will raise its fish and wildlife budget by annually 8.7 percent or $21 million beginning in fiscal years 2024-25.
Entering another spring season of Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead juveniles being moved downriver with much higher spill levels at federal hydropower dams than in the past, the monitoring of results of such operations has become difficult. Higher spill is pushing tagged smolts away from detection facilities, which creates data gaps when measuring the effectiveness of more spill for fish.
Inflation is big news right now. And the Northwest Power and Conservation Council is concerned that rising inflation combined with years-long flat funding for fish and wildlife projects will degrade the region’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife program. At the same time, the Council is looking for a new way to review mitigation projects for funding.
The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission this week presented its “2022 Energy Vision For The Columbia River Basin” to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, with recommendations to get “energy production off the backs of salmon.”
Northwest Power and Conservation Council staff discussed with the Council’s power committee this week a proposed seven-phase, scope-of-work plan to evaluate what it would take to replace the “power system services” provided by the Lower Snake River dams, and the feedback staff has received.
Total Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife costs last year (fiscal year 2021) rose 18 percent over FY2020 from $611.5 million to $744.5 million, making up about 25 percent of the power marketing agency’s wholesale power rate, according to a report to Northwest governors released for public comment by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
A draft scoping plan to study the impacts on the Northwest power system of removing four lower Snake River dams and replacing the dams’ generating output is running up against stiff opposition from utilities and some members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council approved Wednesday morning its 20-year outlook for the Northwest power supply, minus an analysis of the impacts of breaching the lower Snake River dams. An hour later the Council, however, voted unanimously for its staff to develop a work plan on how it will analyze the power implications of breaching, a move many commenters on the draft power plan had requested.
A science panel presented to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council this week its final review of 122 Columbia/Snake river basin hatchery and habitat projects being considered for continued funding by the Bonneville