The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, an interstate compact agency of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, was established under the authority of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980 (Northwest Power Act or Act). The Act directs the Council to develop a program to “protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife, including related spawning grounds and habitat, on the Columbia River and its tributaries … affected by the development, operation, and management of [hydroelectric projects] while assuring the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply.” The Act also directs the Council to ensure widespread public involvement in the formulation of regional power and fish and wildlife policies.
As a planning, policy-making and reviewing body, the Council develops the program and then monitors its implementation by the Bonneville Power Administration (Bonneville), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), the Bureau of Reclamation (the Bureau) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and its licensees.
The Northwest Power Act directs the Council to develop its program and make periodic major revisions by first requesting recommendations from the region’s federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, appropriate Indian tribes (those within the basin) and other interested parties. The Council also takes comment from designated entities and the public on those recommendations. The Council then issues a draft amended program, initiating an extensive public comment period on the recommendations and proposed program amendments that includes extensive written comments, public hearings in each of the four states, and consultations with interested parties.
After closing the comment period and following a review and deliberation period, the Council adopts the revised program. The Council develops its final program on the basis of the amendment recommendations, information submitted in support of the recommendations, views and information obtained through public comment and participation, and consultation with the fish and wildlife agencies, tribes, Bonneville customers and others. The program amendments are not concluded until the Council adopts written findings as part of the program explaining its basis for adopting or not adopting program amendment recommendations.