Blog

Strategic Plan Will Protect Fish and Wildlife Investments Over Time

posted Apr 15, 2015

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A fish screen in the Yakima River Basin, Washington.

In revising the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program in 2014, the Council committed to define and develop a long-term maintenance plan and process to ensure that past investments in projects that implement the program remain properly functioning and continue to benefit fish and wildlife in the basin. The plan also is intended to ensure that projects funded through the program continue to meet Bonneville Power Administration mitigation requirements (See Appendix P of the program, Maintenance of Fish and Wildlife Program Investments, here.).

Since last fall when the Council adopted the revised program, the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee and Council staff have been developing a strategic plan for operation and maintenance of projects in the program.

According to a staff report and committee discussion at the April 7-8, 2015 Council meeting in Helena, Montana, the plan will have four categories: 1) maintenance of fish screens and diversions; 2) maintenance of hatcheries, fishways, and fish traps; 3) protection of high-priority habitats; and 4) the ongoing work of the Budget Oversight Group, which addresses miscellaneous funding requests, such as after project infrastructure is damaged or when there are special needs. The strategic plan also will include an asset management program for long-term maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement of project investments.

Current ongoing work to develop the strategic plan includes completing inventories of fish screens, existing hatcheries, and lands. These should be completed by July.

The final plan, expected late this year, will be informed by recommendations from the Council’s Independent Economic Advisory Board on approaches to improving planning for long-term costs of fish and wildlife projects. The IEAB began working on its report in January. A work group assisting the Council includes representatives of Bonneville and the Corps of Engineers; fish and wildlife agencies and tribes with expertise in fish screens, fishways, traps, hatcheries, lands, and habitat actions; the Council’s Wildlife Advisory Committee; and the multi-party Fish Screening Oversight Committee.

When completed, the draft plan will be presented to the Council for review and recommendation to Bonneville and the Corps of Engineers.

Region Should Have Adequate Power Supply Through 2020

posted Apr 1, 2015

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A preliminary assessment of the region's power supply shows that we're likely to have adequate resources until 2020. Unless economic growth increases dramatically, there's only a 5 percent chance of not meeting demand, the Council's maximum threshold for a shortfall.

The Council's annual assessment helps make sure we're on track to meeting our energy needs for the next five years. Since last year's assessment, which indicated a 6 percent chance of a shortfall in 2019, the region's forecast demand has dropped. Offsetting the drop in demand, however, is the loss of generation from the Big Hanaford gas-fired turbine plant, which is no longer available for regional use. The net result means that, along with the continued energy savings projected in the Council's Sixth Power Plan, we should have an adequate power supply.

The real focus, however, is on 2021, when the Boardman and Centralia 1 coal plants, with a combined nameplate capacity of 1,330 megawatts, retire. That year, the probability for not meeting demand goes up to a little over 8 percent. The region would need to acquire an additional 1,150 megawatts of dispatchable capacity or develop other measures to bring the power supply to adequacy.

Measures to replace the lost coal generation include additional energy efficiency savings, natural gas plants, solar PV, wind, and demand response programs.

Lunch and Learn With the Council

posted Mar 31, 2015

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The upcoming Energy Efficiency Exchange Conference on April 21-23 is the largest gathering of energy efficiency professionals in the Northwest. In conjunction with this event, the Council will be hosting a lunch at its downtown Portland office for attendees to learn about the Council, its role in energy efficiency development, and what the future of energy efficiency might be.

We hope to see you there! 

Potential Gains in Energy Efficiency Remain for Seventh Power Plan

posted Mar 17, 2015

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A preliminary assessment of potential energy efficiency shows that the region could gain about 5,100 average megawatts over the next 20 years; about 2,700 of that costs less than $40 per megawatt hour.

While the amount is about 1,500 average megawatts lower than the Council's last power plan, as a percentage of loads, its about the same. The region's success in achieving savings since the last plan, along with forecast savings from recently adopted federal standards and state building codes, have reduced potential. The region has surpassed the Council's annual targets every year since 2005. Still, there are a number of new measures and savings from advances in solid-state lighting, control devices, variable refrigerant flow HVAC systems, and efficient data center equipment.

The assessment data are inputs to the Council's regional portfolio model. Along with generation and demand response data, the results from the model will help identify how much of energy efficiency is cost-effective, and will be used to determine the energy efficiency targets in the Council's Seventh Power Plan.

Seals and Sea Lions Are Following Fish Into the Columbia River

posted Mar 16, 2015

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Part of a group of harbor seals estimated at 6,000 on Desdemona Sands near Astoria, Oregon, in February. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Photo.

An aerial survey by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in February counted more than 6,000 seals and 1,600 sea lions in the Astoria area, according to a report in The Seattle Times.

Seals and sea lions enter the Columbia River annually in early spring and follow the run of eulachon -- small, oily fish formerly called smelt -- upstream. When the smelt are gone, the seals and sea lions prey on salmon, sturgeon, and lamprey before leaving the river in late May or early June for breeding grounds off the coast of southern California.

Biologists noted an increase in the number of sea lions in the Columbia in the spring of 2013, and again in 2014, possibly because of the coincident increase in the number of eulachon. The tiny fish tend to travel in schools and thus make an easy prey for marine mammals. The 2015 eulachon run is predicted to be large again.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 sick and starving sea lion pups have been rescued along the southern California coast, more than five times greater than in 2013, which was the worst season in recent memory. According a report by NOAA Fisheries scientists, it appears the same pressures leading to starving pups in southern California are driving adult males far afield in search of food.

In the Columbia River, a large spring Chinook return of 312,600 fish (232,500 estimated for the upriver component, above Bonneville Dam) is beginning to migrate into the Columbia River. Ongoing research by NOAA Fisheries, which involves installing tracking devices on spring Chinook salmon in the estuary and then following their passage at Bonneville Dam, suggests that as much as 45 percent of the spring Chinook run may be disappearing between the estuary and the dam. Accounting for other sources of mortality, the lead NOAA researcher has reported there is a probable, but not verified, link to seals and sea lions.

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its first biweekly status report of the 2015 field season for seal and sea lion abundance at Bonneville Dam, noting that sea lions have been observed in the tailrace of the dam since January (Steller) and early February (California). Many of the California sea lions are young and travel in packs of 5-15, the Corps reported.

While regional fish and wildlife managers have legal authority under Section 120 of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act to remove the most problematic California sea lions, the process is complex and requires precise identification of animals that are repeatedly observed killing ESA-listed fish. Nonetheless, 73 have been removed from near Bonneville Dam through 2014.

Scenario Analysis Begins

posted Feb 11, 2015

Scenario Analysis Is Coming!

posted Jan 22, 2015

"The Objectives Process" begins

posted Dec 11, 2014

Why We Plan for Uncertainty

posted Nov 19, 2014

Why We Have a Regional Power Plan

posted Oct 29, 2014

Estimating Energy Efficiency

posted Oct 24, 2014

Seventh Power Plan 101

posted Oct 6, 2014

BPA Energy Efficiency Funding

posted Mar 12, 2014

Weathering a Cold Snap

posted Jan 17, 2014

The Seventh Power Plan

posted Dec 11, 2013

Designing for Efficiency

posted Nov 12, 2013

The Flexibility Challenge

posted Oct 30, 2013

Northwest Q & A: Robert D. Kahn

posted Oct 29, 2013

Tagging Sturgeon in Astoria

posted Aug 22, 2013

Habitat Tours Focus on Results

posted May 31, 2013

Sustainability Is Success

posted May 29, 2013

A Last Look at Condit Dam

posted Oct 24, 2011

Changing Minds, Changing the Land

posted Jul 26, 2011

Wind Power, Then and Now

posted Apr 18, 2011

The Rebound Effect: Is It Real?

posted Feb 1, 2011

An Update on Didymo

posted Jan 27, 2011

Didymo: A New Kind of Invader

posted Jan 18, 2011

A Good Year for Returning Salmon

posted Sep 30, 2010

Building a Better Battery

posted Aug 11, 2010

Using Batteries to Store Energy

posted Jul 28, 2010

Growing Summer Energy Demand

posted Jul 26, 2010

California's Energy Scene

posted Jul 23, 2010

Ensuring Efficiency

posted Jun 21, 2010

Making Wind Work

posted Jun 7, 2010

Clean Tech Draws VC Funding

posted May 3, 2010

And the Wind Came Up

posted Apr 6, 2010