The Center Square: Inslee Predicts ‘Blackouts, Destruction, and Death’ this Summer

Gov. Inslee warns of deaths due to power shortages while proposing to create further power shortages. (photo: Spokeman)

The Center Square published Inslee predicts ‘blackouts, destruction, and death’ this summer on Wednesday. Inslee so predicted because of the possibility of power shortages this summer, but at the same time he supports removing dams which would further reduce power generation.

Todd Myers, director of the Center for the Environment for the free market Washington Policy Center, thinks Gov. Jay Inslee is being coy about his support for breaching four dams on the lower Snake River.

“Last week, @GovInslee gave implicit support to destroying the Snake River dams and 8% of Washington’s electricity generation. Today he sent an email warning about electricity shortages this summer. #waleg,” Myers tweeted Monday.

This was accompanied by an excerpt of an email from Inslee’s campaign.

“It’s shaping up to be a deadly summer,” the email reads.

“As the climate crisis worsens, we’re facing the most extreme weather in history. While Washington state faced the wettest start to the summer in over 70 years, other states are preparing for sweltering temperatures that will catastrophically disrupt our fragile electrical grid. That means blackouts, destruction, and death. Just look at the headlines.”

Myers’ observation was prompted by Thursday’s release by Inslee and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, of a draft report that says breaching the dams would be the best way to remove Snake River salmon runs from the Endangered Species List, in addition to being the best way to maintain treaty and trust obligations with Native American tribes.

According to the report, finding other ways to provide electricity, irrigation, and enabling commerce would cost between $10.3 billion and $27.2 billion.

The release of the report kicks off a one-month public comment period running until July 11.

The debate over breaching the federally-owned dams has swirled for decades.

Proponents of removing the dams say doing so would bring back salmon runs to the benefit of sport, commercial, and tribal fishing communities, in addition to helping starving orcas dependent upon salmon as a food source.

Getting rid of the dams would negatively impact the provision of irrigation water for farmers, critics say, in addition to making the river system unnavigable for barges that move crops and other products to port for export. Recreation opportunities for locals and tourists would also be lessened, critics add.

Perhaps the most contentious issue raised by critics of breaching the dams is the negative impact it will have on the generation of electricity. Power grid workers have consistently said the back-up electricity provided by the Snake River dams is essential to preventing power shortages when energy demand is high.

It’s not the first time Inslee has said or done something that seems at odds with making sure Washington’s energy needs can be met.

Earlier this year, Inslee vetoed House Bill 1623 to address the “risk of rolling backouts and power supply inadequacy events,” even though the legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Legislature.

In his March 31 veto letter to the Legislature, Inslee cited redundancy for his decision.

“Ensuring that our electricity grid continues to reliably provide power to Washingtonians is a priority for me as well, which is why we have multiple state agencies already working on this issue,” Inslee wrote.

The Center Square reached out to Jamie Smith, Inslee’s executive director of communications, regarding Myers’ comments about could be construed as a mixed message from the governor.

“The governor has been consistently clear that he has not made any decision on the question about the dams,” she said via email.

That language is similar to a joint statement released by Murray and Inslee on the draft report.

“We continue to approach the question of breaching with open minds and without a predetermined decision,” they said. “From the start, we have placed public and stakeholder engagement from communities across the Pacific Northwest as the foundation of any regional process.”

Nevertheless, there have been indications Inslee leans toward breaching the Snake River dams.

Earlier this month, Inslee cast doubt on a multi-agency 2020 Environmental Impact Statement on the Snake River dams because it was completed under the administration of former President Donald Trump. The report essentially said dams and fish can coexist.

Last summer, Inslee signaled support for a key plank in Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson’s plan – dam breaching – outlining $33.5 billion in federal spending to remove the four Snake River dams in 2030.

The current draft report is the second such study initiated by the governor’s office on the Snake River dams in the last few years. The results of a 2019 study failed to deliver a clear result.

American Partisan: Lessons Learned from a Power Outage

American Partisan has a nice short article on some Lessons Learned from a Power Outage, mostly along the lines of “things I should have checked ahead of time.”

As I sit hear listening to the local FM country music station, I am approaching 24 hours without power thanks to the derecho that blew through the Northeast. I started keeping a running list of lessons learned. Basically, if it was something I wished I had or something I was super glad I had already, I wrote it down. This has been a great training scenario. Though if the power company could go ahead and get me back up that would be greattttttt.

  1. Inventory ahead of time. I realized after the power went out that I did not have enough D batteries to power all lanterns AND have a backup set for each. I bought a few Streamlight Siege Lanterns a year or so ago and I absolutely love them!
  2. When the power went out, I assumed it would be short. At my previous residence, I was on the same grid as the local EMS and Fire Station, so we were always back up first. I did not pull the generator out until about 7 hours after we lost power. That is seven hours of lost time that could have been used charging items.
  3. Stock extra gas. I had some stocked, but I had been dragging my feet in getting all six of my 5 gallon cans filled. That is going to fixed real quick.
  4. Identify property issues before the storm. This includes tree limbs, earth gradients and drainage issues, etc. Walk your property during the storm to identify runoff issues, gutters that need to be address, and things like that.
  5. Have a list of local radio frequencies handy. Keep your radios charged.
  6. If you have a propane grill, make sure you stay stocked on propane fuel.
  7. In addition to #6, have another method of off grid cooking available.
  8. Keep your basic power outage supplies together and accessible so you are not scrambling into multiple tubs or rooms to gather stuff.
  9. Use UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) Surge Protectors on your Wifi and your computer. This way, if a power outage hits, you have time to turn your computer off properly while it runs on the surge protector’s battery. Additionally, by keeping the modem up, you will have internet.
  10. If the power outage continues, you can use frozen items to keep the fridge cool. Currently we are using a frozen turkey from our chest freezer as a cooling method.
  11. Don’t hesitate to get bags of ice from the local convenience store as well.
  12. If you have a generator, make sure you keep a handy list of all of your appliances and the necessary starting and running watts they need to run. This way you can easily tell what can run at the same time based on your generator wattage.
  13. Have necessary extension cords on hand (ideally 12 gauge or 10 gauge) in order to safely run those applicances off a generator.
  14. Have candles on hand. While having a bunch of LED lanterns are nice, sometimes the gentle light of a candle suffices. Plus, it looks cool.
  15. Get a kerosene heater and stock kerosene. While you are at it, might as well get a kerosene lantern as well. Duplicity!
  16. If you have the chance to get gas for cooking, do it! The previous location I lived in had gas, while this new place has it to the house but not hooked up yet. Thus, we cannot cook anything with our electric range. Hence why #6 and #7 are important. Additionally, in the winter, you could use the stove for warmth. I know several people who survived for weeks like this during Hurricane Sandy.
  17. Some night lights (small plug in hallway lights) have battery back-ups. This could be important – especially if you have kids.
  18. Battery back-up charger for your phone can help a lot.
  19. Be sure to evaluate your food once power is restored.
  20. Be Proactive, Not Reactive…