Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The plan to breach hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and the Lower Snake River could potentially affect the power supply and resulting rate increases for residents, agriculture, and businesses in western Montana.

KGVO News spoke with Mark Lambrecht, Government Relations representative for the Montana Electric Co-ops Association about a plan developed in secret that could decimate the power supply for western Montana.

Breaching Dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and Montana's Electricity

“The White House has been negotiating in secret with what they're terming the six sovereigns in the states of Oregon and Washington,” began Lambrecht. “Environmental groups including Earth Justice, the National Wildlife Federation and for tribal nations from the Pacific Northwest to fundamentally change the way the Columbia River Basin system is operated, which is a pathway toward breaching of the Lower Snake River dams and other hydroelectric generation facilities that are so critical as a power supply for western Montana electric cooperatives.”

The plan is to breach the dams in order to restore the river flows so that salmon and steelhead can spawn.

They Want to Breach the Dams so that Salmon and Steelhead can Spawn

“The agreement establishes a new tribal entity that would replace the megawatts from the hydroelectric facilities that would be changed, so that there would be less of an emphasis on producing electricity and more of an emphasis on changing the flow of the dams to benefit salmon and steelhead restoration,” he said. “Then those megawatts would be replaced through a new renewable solar and wind generation transmission that would be owned and operated by this new entity.”

Lambrecht said the effect on western Montana would be devastating.

Breaching the Dams could Decimate Montana's Economy

“Western Montana receives about an average of 330 megawatts of power from the Columbia River Basin system,” he said. “That's enough power, especially in the winter months, to supply more than 100,000 Montanans, perhaps more than 220,000 depending on what the load is at the time.”

Lambrecht encouraged all our KGVO listeners and website readers to reach out to their federal Congressional delegation and urge them to act immediately on the issue.

“This is critical,” he said. “We've reached out to the entire Montana delegation. Senator Danes has already signed on a letter to the White House with the Idaho senators. We understand Senator Tester made a call to the White House the other day, expressing his concerns about the agreement. But we're really asking your listeners out there and all Montanans to contact their member of Congress as soon as possible and ask them to put pressure on the White House, not to move forward with this agreement.”

Click here for contact information on Montana’s federal Congressional delegation

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Gallery Credit: megan shaul

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