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Public Statements

Recognizing Northern Wasco County PUD And Public Power Utilites

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. WALDEN. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the rich history of Oregon's People's Utility Districts, PUD, and the efforts of Northern Wasco County PUD, the lone PUD in Oregon's Second Congressional District. Last month, Northern Wasco County PUD joined Oregon's numerous Municipal Electrical Utilities and Rural Electrical Cooperatives to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Public Power Week and to recognize over seven decades of public power generated by the clean and renewable federal hydropower system in the Pacific Northwest. I commend Northern Wasco County PUD for their continued commitment to the utilization of clean renewable power in Wasco County, as well as their exemplary efforts in energy efficiency and conservation.

* On September 28, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt stood on Oregon soil as he dedicated the newly constructed Bonneville Dam, which became one of the first in a series of dams to be installed along the Columbia River as part of the President's vision to improve economic opportunities, flood control and, more importantly, provide electricity to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Since that day, public power utilities across Oregon, including Northern Wasco County PUD, have harnessed the renewable power of the region's hydroelectric dams to provide clean renewable electricity to Oregon's communities and deliver steady supplies of power to small and large businesses. By providing some of the lowest-cost power to businesses in the Nation, public power utilities play a major role in maintaining thousands of jobs throughout rural and urban Oregon.

* Besides delivering reliable hydropower, public power utilities and their ratepayers' across the West have invested a tremendous amount of financial resources in energy conservation and renewable energy projects. Since Congress passed the 1980 Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana have conserved a combined 3,700 average-megawatts of energy. This savings is equal to the annual combined energy needs of Idaho and western Montana, or the output of seven 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants. These conservation efforts have also resulted in a reduction of 13.5 million tons of CO

* Over the years, Northern Wasco County PUD customers have invested $27 million in two hydroelectric projects, both of which allow for enhanced fish passage and an increased supply of renewable power. These projects include a five-megawatt generator located at The Dalles Dam and a 10-megawatt generator at the McNary Dam. Both projects generate clean power with no emissions and enhance the survival of listed fish along the main stem of the Columbia River.

* In addition, Northern Wasco County PUD is developing a methane gas capture energy project in partnership with the The Dalles, Oregon at the city's wastewater treatment plant as well as a micro-hydroelectric generation installation on the city's water mainline. Furthermore, Northern Wasco County PUD is exploring a U.S. Department of Energy grant for potential geothermal generation in cooperation with a group of other northwest utilities. From my conversations with Northern Wasco County PUD officials, I know they are most proud of their commitment to providing their residential and industrial customers with adequate and predictable supplies of energy at affordable prices, especially in light of the difficult economic circumstances facing rural Oregon.

* I also know that the commitment of public power utilities to providing clean renewable energy options for customers is strong. In fact, many now offer their residential, commercial and industrial customers the option of purchasing up to 100 percent renewable electricity produced from resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro.

* Madam Speaker, as the debate continues about how to best address climate change, energy independence, and our smarter energy future, it is imperative that entities providing public power in the Pacific Northwest, like Northern Wasco County PUD, receive credit for the work and investments they have already made in protecting our environment through the responsible use of the renewable energy hydropower system and through energy conservation. I commend them for these efforts.

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