Lower Snake River Dams: Hydropower Replacement Costs


Rocky  Mountain  Econometrics  (RME)  has  been  actively  analyzing  northwest  energy
issues  since  1985.   In  the  1980s  and  1990s,  the  author  was  the  staff  economist  for
the  Idaho  Public  Utilities  Commission.

In  1998  Governor  Kempthorne,  and  later,  Governor  Batt,  contracted  with  RME  to
monitor  the  Army  Corp  of  Engineers’  (ACOE)  development  of  the  FREIS 1  and  the
potential  breaching  of  the  four  Lower  Snake  River  Dams  in  Washington  State
(LSRD).   In  that  capacity  RME  documented  for  Idaho’s  elected  leaders  the
conclusions,  errors  and  omissions  in  the  ACOE’s  analysis.

In  2002  Northwest  Resource  Information  Center  and  RME  published,   “Idaho
Economic  Effects  of  Breaching/Not  Breaching  the  Army  Corps  of  Engineers’  Snake
River  Dams  in  S.E.  Washington.”   That  document  details  that  much  of  the  ACOE’s
findings  in  the  FREIS  were  flawed  and  that  the  best  economic  alternative  was  to
decommission  the  LSRD.

In  early  2015  Idaho  Rivers  United  asked  RME  to  once  again  bring  its  expertise  to  the
subject  and  revisit  the  FREIS  for  the  purpose  of  calculating  the  cost  of  replacing  the
energy  produced  by  the  LSRD  in  current  (2015)  dollars.   To  that  end,  the  following
pages  present  the  context  in  which  the  four  Lower  Snake  River  Dams  in  Washington
State  currently  operate  as  energy  producing  entities  within  the  greater  Pacific
Northwest  region.   The  following  pages  also  present  scenarios  for  viewing  the  cost
of  replacing  the  electric  power  that  would  be  lost  if  the  dams  are  decommissioned.

Read the report: 2015 Lower Snake River Dams: Hydropower Replacement Costs (.pdf)

A Reevaluation of the Lower Snake River Feasibility Report

This chart shows the dramatic rise in the costs of operations, maintenance and repairs incurred while keeping the four lower Snake river dams in place as opposed to the huge savings obtained if the dams were breached now while maintaining recreational opportunities. Click here for a printable PDF document

Fish Passage Center on overheated Snake/Columbia waters

Requested data summaries and actions regarding sockeye adult fish passage and water temperature issues in the Columbia and Snake rivers…