April, 2014- Mason County residents are seeing something on TV and in other media that has been a part of our way of life for over 75 years, yet is often overlooked: how hydropower dams and the incredible power of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake Rivers benefit our daily lives.
This public education effort is CleanHydro. It’s coordinated by Northwest RiverPartners, an organization that promotes a balanced approach to managing the federal hydropower system on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Mason County PUD 1 and PUD 3 are members of this group and are proud to support its efforts. Hydropower seems to have faded in the public’s awareness, along with the understanding and appreciation for the tremendous economic and environmental values of this resource.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, many people have moved here from other places where they didn’t grow up with dams and hydropower. Also, younger generations are not learning about hydropower as they used to.
Second, the energy industry has changed dramatically with the huge growth in other renewable sources of energy, particularly wind. While this has played prominently in the media, hydropower has been overlooked. This gives the perception that these newer technologies are the only renewables in the region.
That’s why Northwest RiverPartners continues to tell the incredible story of our dams, hydropower and Columbia and Snake Rivers. Last year, the CleanHydro campaign increased awareness and support for hydro by demonstrating its value to the Pacific Northwest’s environment and economy. After the campaign, 77 percent of those polled identified hydropower as a clean, renewable source of energy, up from 72 percent. Public support for state and federal laws to identify hydro as a renewable resource has increased by six percent.
The work is not done, which is why it is so important to both of Mason County’s PUDs to be a part of this public education effort again this year.
Hydropower accounts for 75 percent of Washington State’s renewable energy. Mason County PUD 1 receives 88% of its energy from hydro, while PUD 3 receives 87%. Hydropower is clean; it doesn’t burn fossil fuels and it keeps our carbon footprint about half that of other parts of the country. Hydroelectric power is inexpensive power. It costs much less compared to wind, coal, nuclear and other energy sources.
Hydropower and the Columbia and Snake River commerce system provide many other benefits to the region. Tugs and barges use the rivers to transport billions of dollars worth of agricultural and other products to the world and employ thousands.
CleanHydro is about reviving the conversation about the importance of hydropower. It’s about reminding people of the tremendous energy, economic, and environmental benefits these resources bring to their everyday lives. Telling that comprehensive story helps people appreciate these benefits and understand why they make the Pacific Northwest the envy of the rest of the country.
Take a moment to visit CleanHydro.com, which features information about our hydropower. We have a great story to tell. We are proud to be a part of it and hope you’ll join this conversation.
Ron Gold, Board President, Mason County PUD 1 Tom Farmer, Board President, Mason County PUD 3