Removing These Dams Could Raise Montanans Electricity Prices
Think about it this way, the federal government just spent $43 million to install electric vehicle charging stations in Montana. How many electronic devices do you have just in your home alone?
We lost Colstrip 1 & 2, and now they want to tear down hydropower dams. This is one of the cleanest "greenest" forms of energy we have right now. Don't we need MORE electricity right now, rather than less?
Removing the lower Snake River dams was one of the main topics of discussions during the mid-year meeting for the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association (MECA). The electric cooperatives represent members from both Eastern and Western Montana, each facing their own challenges.
Gary Wiens is the CEO of the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association. Wiens says that the proposal being put forward by radical groups to tear down the lower Snake River dams is an issue that brought together co-ops from both sides of the state. He says the dams provide over 1,000 megawatts of power.
Gary Wiens: Everybody in the Eastern coops who don't depend on Lower Snake River dams-the Western coops do-they said, 'that could happen to us. We could lose Fort Peck dam.'They could say all of a sudden say- oh, well, let's start tearing out that.' If we lose Lower Snake River Dam that's the first domino to go in the United States as far as federal hydro.And then it's just a matter of time if we lose that that we start losing every single federal hydropower dam. It's low cost energy. It's clean. Its carbon free. We can't afford to lose it, especially if we've got a country that wants to try to drive down carbon emissions.
I also caught up with Katie Pfennigs from Flathead Electric Cooperative earlier in the week. They're the largest co-op in the state. She says if the dams are breached, they could potentially face at least a 25% rate increase on peoples power bills.
Katie Pfennigs: That's highly, highly concerning. As a rural electric cooperative, as you know, we're a not-for-profit electric co-op, and we exist only to just provide service to our members. And we are all members ourselves...that's going to make it really, really tough for a lot of our members to pay their electric bills, even with our rates being some of the lowest rates in the nation.
More of our conversations with MECA board members from Eureka, Montana will air on Monday's "Montana Talks with Aaron Flint" statewide radio show from 9-10 a.m.
Big thanks to Marianne Roose and Lincoln Electric Cooperative for inviting us up and the great hospitality from our friends in Eureka.
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