Monday, December 1, 2008

Oregon cuts dams even as hydro gains steam

The NYTimes' Green Inc. blog has a posting today about the increased popularity of hydropower projects in U.S. rivers as a cleaner, sometimes cheaper, alternative to traditional energy resources.

In Oregon, this may not be exactly true. Many existing hydro projects are being decommissioned, including those on the Rogue River and the Sandy River, to allow for upstream fish passage. And I don't know of any re-licensing projects here that are adding turbines to existing dams.

But at least one tech company, Symbiotics, is still building hydro projects here. Or, more accurately, they're installing inflatable dams on top of irrigation dams to generate power where there was once just a concrete slab. And their work is going gangbusters. When I talked to COO Brent Smith a few months ago for the Relicensing Review he said he expects FERC to approve at least three more project licenses by the end of next year.

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