Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The Pacific Northwest faces two crises that threaten the region, its 11 million people, the future of wild salmon, and the region’s critical public electrical power system. Despite spending more than $16 billion, wild salmon are still on the edge of extinction in the Snake River. At the same time, a revolution in the electric industry has dramatically reduced the cost of power causing a major energy surplus and threatening the financial viability of the Bonneville Power Administration.

To save salmon and the power system that has provided the Pacific Northwest with many benefits, including a stable power supply for the region, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana must come together to resolve the 25-year conflict over energy, salmon, agriculture, and communities. It was in 1993 that then Gov. Cecil Andrus filed the first of many lawsuits challenging the operations of the federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers and despite many improvements in dams and salmon habitat only a handful of the large B run steelhead made it back to Idaho to spawn last year, and only 11 natural-origin sockeye returned to Stanley Basin.

BPA’s must sign new contracts with most of its customers in the next decade. But the market price of power is now below BPA’s current price, and out-of-region markets for BPA’s surplus hydropower are shrinking. If BPA’s large customers leave BPA to pursue cheaper power, the agency’s ability to meet its costs – including its public interest spending for fish and wildlife, energy infrastructure, and energy efficiency – will be at serious risk.

Andrus worked closely with the Northwest’s governors from both parties to support and defend the public power system and seek bipartisan solutions for salmon restoration. So, it is fitting that the Andrus Center for Public Policy convened a forum to support current regional discussions on solutions to address energy, salmon, water, agriculture, and community needs.

The conference was designed to encourage action and discussion toward such resolution and to bring together the leaders and groups who can find and implement a long-term plan that meets everyone’s needs.


Location: Boise State University - Boise, Idaho

Conference Date: April 23, 2019

The Andrus Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit entity within Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

Sponsored By:

  • Idaho Conservation League
  • Gretchen Biggs Tom Mayson Fund
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Idaho Power
  • Midas Gold
  • PNW: Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative
  • Northwest River Partners
  • Idaho EPSCoR
  • American Rivers
  • The Nature Conservancy Idaho
  • Perkins Coie
  • Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Copyright Statement

Prepared for the Andrus Center for Public Policy.