• A Northwest energy solution:
    Regional power benefits of the lower Snake River dams 

    Clean, flexible and reliable. The lower Snake River dams are part of a Northwest energy solution with the capability to generate over 3,000 megawatts of carbon-free power.

    Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct four large dams along the lower Snake River. Completed in the 1970s, the dams are workhorse multi-use facilities that provide power, navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation benefits for the Northwest.

    The four lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite — are part of the Federal Columbia River Power System. The FCRPS is the largest source of clean, renewable electricity in the Pacific Northwest, helping the region limit its greenhouse gas emissions. Because of their location on the  east side of the Cascades and the size of their generators, Washington state’s lower Snake River dams are also critical links in the carefully synchronized operation of the Northwest’s federal hydropower system.

    A key benefit of the federal dams is clean air. These dams produce a lot of energy and no greenhouse gas emissions. This gives the Northwest an environmental edge unmatched elsewhere in the country, where power production is largely based on fossil fuels.

    If the region were to replace the energy produced by the lower Snake dams, it would most likely be with a fossil fuel, natural gas.1 A 2015 BPA reliability analysis concluded that replacement of the lower Snake dams with highly efficient natural gas generation would still increase the region’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2.0 to 2.6 million metric tons annually. At the low end, this would be the equivalent of adding 421,000 passenger cars to the region’s roads each year.

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