Oregon and Idaho members will lead Power Council in 2017

posted Feb 23, 2017

Henry Lorenzen, Bill Booth

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council this month elected Oregon and Idaho members to lead the four-state energy and fish and wildlife planning agency in 2017.

The Council re-elected Oregon Member Henry Lorenzen as chair. Mr. Lorenzen, of Pendleton, is an attorney, licensed professional electrical engineer, and third-generation dry land wheat farmer. He was appointed to the Council in August, 2012 and reappointed and unanimously confirmed by the Oregon Legislature in April 2015.

Prior to joining the Council, he was a partner in the law firm of Corey, Byler, Rew, Lorenzen & Hojem, LLP, and continues to serve the law firm on an “of counsel” basis. Mr. Lorenzen has served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Department of Justice, a member of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a member and chair of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission. He has also served as a member and president of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. He received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University, his MBA from Harvard University, and his law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

The Council also re-elected Idaho member Bill Booth as vice chair. Mr. Booth previously served in several Council leadership positions including two terms as chair, in 2008 and 2009. He also has chaired the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee and was elected vice chair in 2015. Mr. Booth, of Coeur d’Alene, was appointed to the Council in January 2007 by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and also serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet. 

Mr. Booth is a former U.S. Air Force Captain, serving as a missile combat targeting officer. Previously, he was a senior minerals industry executive overseeing environmental and government affairs and an instructor of economics at North Idaho College. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho and earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of North Dakota while serving in the Air Force.


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Lamprey Rescue

posted Feb 16, 2017

Lamprey clinging to a window in an adult fish ladder at Bonneville Dam


Research and restoration efforts in the Columbia River Basin are increasingly focusing on Pacific lamprey, a native – and declining -- species  sometimes called eels, but they are really a different species.

Culturally important to Indian tribes, lamprey not only are rich with oil, and therefore nutritious, their health is an indicator of the health of ecosystems, as is the health of other native fish species. Lamprey spawn in tributaries, where they spend three to seven years buried along areas of sediment filter feeding and, as a result, cleaning water – an important ecosystem function. Lamprey are an ancient fish – fossil records date back 400 million years -- with no boney spine and an unusual nervous system, attributes that have made them important in pharmacological and medical research. Over time in the Columbia River Basin, lamprey distribution declined and populations went extinct above many dams and in many streams.

Lamprey are anadromous fish – they spend part of their life cycle in the ocean, and passage at dams has been particularly challenging for adult fish returning from the ocean. Dam passage also is perilous for juvenile lamprey moving downstream because existing bypass systems were designed primarily for salmon and steelhead.

Adult lamprey are able to cross dams using the fish ladders for salmon and steelhead, but these have areas of high water velocity and sharp, 90-degree angles. Primarily for lamprey, though, the problem is that they are not as strong as larger fish, and because they ascend ladders by grasping a wall with their mouths, releasing, swimming upstream in a burst and then latching on again, they sometimes can’t make a new connection and get swept down the ladder. In an effort to assist adult lamprey, specially designed, smooth-surface aluminum ladders with low flows have been tested, at Bonneville Dam for example, and have proven effective. That technology likely will be installed at other dams.

Lamprey climbing a special ladder at Bonneville Dam.

In a report to the Council this month, representatives of the numerous agencies collaborating on Columbia River lamprey research said one problem is that the lamprey database is sparse.

“There aren’t really robust lamprey counts at dams,” Christina Wang of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Council. “They can pass through a dam then go back and pass again. Getting an accurate account is difficult.”

The current Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative began several years ago, responding to concerns particularly from tribes. A status assessment showed coastal-area populations are secure, but populations in the interior Columbia River Basin are at higher risk.

The initiative is a compilation of 17 lamprey management plans developed by tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, Bureau of Reclamation, and state fish and wildlife agencies along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska, including anadromous fish rivers of the Columbia River Basin. Collaborative restoration efforts include working to improve tributary and mainstem dam passage; monitoring and evaluating the success of relocating lamprey from stable downriver populations to areas above dams where populations have declined or become extinct, such as into Satus Creek, a Yakima River tributary; and continuing research and development of artificial propagation. Artificial propagation has successfully produced lamprey larvae at two hatcheries operated by the Yakama Nation in the Yakima River drainage.



Yakama Nation Fisheries Pacific Lamprey Project

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Pacific Lamprey Restoration Efforts

United States Geological Survey Pacific Lamprey Sciencebase.

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Unveiling the Estuary

posted Feb 15, 2017

Seining for juvenile fish in the Columbia River estuary.

Scientists are slowly unraveling mysteries of the inscrutable ocean, such as how the transition from the fresh water environment of the Columbia River to saltwater affects the growth and eventual success of salmon and steelhead in the environment where they will spend most of their lives.

The venue for their periodic discussions, a place to share the results of research in the North Pacific Ocean and learn from their experiences, is the Ocean and Plume Science Management Forum, chaired by Guy Norman, a Washington member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The forum, which meets twice a year, is a place where ocean researchers and fish managers can discuss critical scientific uncertainties and potential management applications of research results.

At a meeting this month, ocean forum scientists learned that an old stereotype about the estuary appears to be untrue, and that poor feeding conditions in the ocean actually can result in more fish biomass -- bigger fish, a seeming incongruity.

The old estuary stereotype is that the 146 miles of the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the ocean acts as is a pipe through which juvenile fish pass quickly on their way to the ocean with very few, if any stops. But research in the river by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center suggests otherwise. In fact, research shows that the journey through the estuary for juvenile fish more than one year old, notably spring Chinook salmon that were thought to sprint to the ocean, is less a sprint than a series of stops and starts to feed and grow. It was already known that fish less than a year old, notably fall Chinook, stop and rest in the shoreline shallows along the way, but the information about older fish is new. It also appears that fish of different species and age classes overlap as they journey toward saltwater, possibly causing competition for food. Thus, the estuary is not a pipe, but in fact fish of multiple age classes feed, grow and perhaps compete with each other all along the way.

Regarding biomass in the ocean – the mass or weight of fish – the amount varies by the type of fish, and researchers have noted that some years when feeding conditions are poor fish tend to grow larger. Why is that? The hypothesis is that poor ocean conditions may affect smaller fish first – they become prey for larger fish -- so the fish that are left are larger and better able to take advantage of available food. If proven true, there are implications for fish managers who might decide to release larger fish from hatcheries in years of poor ocean feeding conditions to increase the chance the fish will survive in the ocean.

“We are on the cutting edge of receiving information that could inform freshwater management decisions,” forum Chair Norman said. “Information about the ocean and estuary, such as that fish feed on their way to the ocean and that zero-age fish are the primary users of estuary tidal areas, will be helpful to managers, and there may be a linkage with habitat restoration in the estuary. The answers to questions like these could help determine what we do in the future.”


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Northwest Forecast for Electricity Demand Growth Is Flat

posted Jan 24, 2017


Although our focus at the Council is on the medium and long-term outlook for electricity demand in the Northwest, it’s useful to check in to see what our neighboring regions are expecting and to gain insight into the forces that can recast forecasts over time.

Forecasting is not an exact science – as Nils Bohr or possibly even Yogi Berra may have said – “prediction is difficult, especially about the future.” But we continue to plan for the future anyway.

Demand forecasting plays a key role in formulating power plans and strategies. For instance, planners forecasting electricity demand can help determine whether new power plants are required and when developers should build them. It can also help decide the type of power source: a low variable cost renewable source like solar or wind; a super-efficient gas-fired combined cycle combustion turbine that runs constantly; or a flexible natural gas unit like a reciprocating engine.

Changes to electricity demand forecasts generally reflect shifts in expectations of

  • Economic growth
  • Savings from energy conservation
  • Consumer preferences and behaviors

Here in the Northwest, despite predictions of economic and population growth, we expect the long-term growth in demand for electricity to be flat. This is due to our region’s strong focus on energy efficiency. But what about other regions, especially our neighbors to the north and south?  What sort of changes are they seeing in regard to forecasts for electricity?

Up north in the energy-rich Canadian Province of Alberta, demand forecasts can swing based on the fate of oil sands development – the extraction and refinement of oil from the sand, clay, and bitumen of the Athabasca region. Oil sand development directly drives electricity demand since the extraction and production of oil is very energy and water intensive. Greater oil sands development in response to high world oil prices also drives economic growth, which in turns adds to even more electricity demand. However, with the recent worldwide oil glut and low prices, oil sands development has cooled, lowering electricity demand forecasts. But conditions (and forecasts) can change.

In California, different drivers are bringing changes to the electricity forecast. According to the California Energy Commission, growth in demand is leveling off in the Golden State. Once the effects from future energy efficiency and rooftop solar generation are factored in, its long-term forecasts for electricity demand are flat. Continued growth in rooftop solar installations by homeowners and businesses could significantly alter the dynamics of utility-served electricity load in the state.

For instance, in the middle of the afternoon, rooftop solar generation could greatly reduce the amount of electricity required from large, centralized power stations. But, in the evening as the sun sets and solar self-generation drops off, the system will need a flexible, quick reacting power source to respond to demand.

Natural gas power plants and demand response programs can provide flexibility, but in the future, the system may also use batteries to store electricity generated during the day for use in the evening to help with this issue. Another factor we are keeping our eyes on for California is the rapidly growing popularity of electric cars, which will increase demand for electricity, and drop demand for gasoline (and therefore oil).

So, speaking of oil and cars, and possibly even the science of forecasting itself, we leave with a quote from another scientist and philosopher – Tom Magliozzi of Car Talk fame – “it’s better to travel in hope than arrive in despair.”

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Mussel Strategy

posted Jan 23, 2017


The state of Montana is strengthening its response to the threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, moving from an emergency response to the detection of mussel larvae in the state last fall to a new implementation strategy to detect, contain, and control the invaders if they take hold.

Developed by the state departments of fish, wildlife and parks and natural resources and conservation, the Invasive Mussel Framework Implementation Strategy recommends increasing the number of inspection and decontamination stations on roads leading into the state from 17 to 34 to catch infected watercraft before they can be launched; increasing sampling of water bodies; ensuring adequate funding for staffing, research, and public information; coordinating with other state programs to detect and control invasive species; and developing a rapid-response plan to be ready if a threat materializes. The state also will consider restrictions and closures of water bodies as necessary if mussels are detected.

A water pipe clogged with invasive mussels.

Last fall, larvae from quagga and zebra mussels were confirmed in water samples from the Tiber Reservoir, located on a Missouri River tributary in eastern Montana, and ongoing sampling found more “suspect” samples in Montana water bodies east of the Continental Divide including the Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Missouri River and Milk River. Consequently, Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order giving the several state fish, wildlife and water agencies and the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council responsibility for controlling and containing mussels.

The freshwater pests, which can survive out of water for several weeks, adhere to watercraft and can be transported from infected lakes and rivers. Once they take hold, colonies expand rapidly and form solid blocks of shells that can clog water intakes on submerged infrastructure including dock pilings, irrigation intakes, and hydroelectric dams. It has been estimated that the combined economic impact of a Northwest-wide infestation (including British Columbia) could be nearly $600 million per year.

Watercraft inspection stations, funded and operated by the four Northwest states, and located along roadways leading into the region, have been effective at catching and cleaning infected watercraft, but more money is needed to boost the effort. The Council supported additional federal funding in a November 29, 2016 letter to the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, based in Portland.

More information on Montana’s strategy is posted at

Related: Washington Invasive Species Council launches app for smartphone, tablets, and computers to report sightings of unusual fish, plants, insects, and other species:


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A Plan for Scientific Research

posted Jan 19, 2017

Flat Loads

posted Dec 20, 2016

Mussel Alert

posted Dec 16, 2016

Repeat Spawners

posted Dec 16, 2016

Moving Fish Over High Dams

posted Nov 16, 2016

Megawatt? A Powerful Question.

posted Oct 20, 2016

Fuel Of The Future?

posted Oct 18, 2016

Powering the Internet of Things

posted Oct 17, 2016

Storable Power

posted Oct 17, 2016

The Blob Is Back

posted Oct 11, 2016

Old Door, New Opening

posted Oct 6, 2016

Fun With Sturgeon

posted Sep 20, 2016

Cool Relief

posted Sep 15, 2016

Upper Columbia Salmon Habitat

posted Sep 14, 2016

No Gain

posted Sep 14, 2016

The Invasion Strengthens

posted Sep 13, 2016

Cold Water Refuge

posted Aug 11, 2016

Building on a Legacy Resource

posted Aug 5, 2016

Salmon Smorgasbord

posted Jul 14, 2016

Tapping Into Geothermal Energy

posted Jun 21, 2016

Fish And Warm Water Don't Mix

posted Jun 20, 2016

Going, going, almost gone

posted Jun 7, 2016

Early Warning System

posted May 27, 2016

In the (Efficient) Spotlight

posted Apr 25, 2016

The Mystery of Swan Lake

posted Apr 13, 2016

A boost for northern pike removal

posted Apr 13, 2016

They're back, and they're hungry

posted Mar 23, 2016

Warm ocean, small salmon: Why?

posted Mar 7, 2016

Seventh Power Plan Homestretch

posted Dec 15, 2015

Touring Baker Dam

posted Jul 8, 2015

Forest Fires and Fish Habitat

posted May 19, 2015

This Plan Is Your Plan

posted Apr 30, 2015

Lunch and Learn With the Council

posted Mar 31, 2015

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