In spite of the Pacific Northwest’s reputation for environmental leadership, short-sighted opponents of hydroelectric power struck a blow last week when Oregon-based utility PacifiCorp agreed — under duress — to decommission a series of hydroelectric dams in the Upper Klamath River along the Oregon-California border.
Power from the dams is used to serve electrical load in Oregon and Northern California. Without the dams in operation (the licenses were extended to 2020 when they are to be shut down) PacifiCorp will have to find a way to replace the renewable, emissions-free energy that the dams provided.
Regulators were joined by dam protestors in contending that the quest for new power can be done in a way that does not damage the environment anymore or put too much of a dent in consumers’ pockets. And things are certainly expected to go swimmingly for the salmon populations that the dams threatened.