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Salmon and Power

October 08, 2000

* "State's Energy Users Pay Price to Save Salmon" (Sept. 25) says that environmental restrictions on hydropower in the Northwest and California are a primary factor in causing the state's ongoing electricity crisis. That would indeed be news to the state's energy regulators. The California Independent System Operator reports that total net imports of energy and reserve capacity from the Northwest actually increased this year. The modest bypass flows that protect endangered Columbia River salmon were stopped altogether when blackouts threatened California.

It's no surprise that hydropower industry lobbyists seek to spin reasonable regulation of their industry into a primary factor for tripling power bills in San Diego and threatening the integrity of the grid. Hydro plants have dewatered hundreds of miles of rivers in the Sierra Nevada and across the state, devastating fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. With modest adjustments, these dams can continue to profitably generate power while vastly improving fish habitat, recreational opportunities and water quality. The measures translate to just pennies per month for the average consumer.

There's no need to sacrifice our rivers to keep the lights on. We can have both.

STEPHEN WALD, Coordinator

California Hydropower Reform

Coalition, Berkeley

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