Congressional leaders from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, including Washington District 13 Representative Dan Newhouse, have sent a letter to President Biden urging him to prioritize efforts to modernize the Columbia River Treaty.
The treaty is between the United States and Canada and was originally signed in 1964 and is set to expire in 2024. The treaty includes key flood control protection as well as power provision to share in downstream power from hydroelectric dams.
The power provision, known as the Canadian Entitlement, calls for the United States to return hydropower capacity to Canada for the 60-year length of the treaty. After 2024, there would be an opportunity for the counties to renegotiate the provision based on value to each country.
The Columbia River Treaty Power Group, a coalition of utilities serving over seven million customers in the region, estimates that the 1000 megawatts and capacity and average of 400 megawatts sent to Canada exceeds the benefit to the U.S by $150,000,000 annually.
“After almost a decade of work in the Northwest and British Columbia and 10 rounds of formal treaty talks between the two countries, the time to press for completion of the treaty modernization effort is now,” stated the congressional leaders in a formal letter. “The status quo is not acceptable to our region and comes at significant economic harm.”
Since 2014, the U.S. government has had the ability to give a 10-year notice to renegotiate the treaty and have completed 10 rounds of negotiations with the most recent in 2020.
“We appreciate our region’s congressional delegation for advocating to prioritize efforts to modernize the treaty on behalf of Northwest utility customers,” said Kevin Nordt, Grant PUD General Manager/CEO. “A modernized Columbia River Treaty will further support our utility’s mission to efficiently and reliably serve our customers.”