CEO Message – May 2022

Participate – Your Voice is Important to Us

scott peters headshotWe’ve talked a lot about the big financial year that Columbia REA experienced in 2021, but there are a lot of other factors that contribute to success as much as kWh sold and revenue generated. Another figure we are proud of is our minimal carbon footprint. In 2021, Columbia REA was 95% carbon-free in our fuel mix, with only 5% of our energy provided by natural gas.

Columbia REA has been a very “clean” electricity provider since our inception more than 80 years ago, and the reason is simple: hydropower. We’re fortunate to live in a region of the country that has a steady supply of clean, renewable, scalable energy. As a result, the Pacific Northwest enjoys some of the lowest electric utility rates in the nation.

As we know, the conversation about removing the four lower Snake River dams persists. And make no mistake, regardless of whether you’re in favor or opposed, if the Snake River dams are breached and hydropower is no longer a plentiful and dependable resource for Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California, your rates will go up - possibly by 25% locally - and by some estimates as much as 50% in other areas. Simply put, there is no replacement for hydropower right now. Studies have shown that it would take a solar farm covering 21,000 acres to replace the energy produced by the lower Snake River dams (and even then, the sun doesn’t always shine the way a river always flows). It would take an estimated 16 billion dollars and 20 years to replace the energy provided by the four lower Snake River dams with alternative clean energy resources. That is an unfathomably large dollar figure, but two decades of limited energy resources, and even potential shortages, is not out of the realm of possibility, and something none of us wants to see.

As we move through 2022, this conversation will continue, at the local, state, and federal level, and your voice as a member of Columbia REA is important to us. You have the power to help shape the future of your co-op. We would like to thank all of you who exercised that power by voting in our annual Board Director elections, and those of you who attended our Annual Meeting a couple of weeks ago. The results of our Board Director election can be found on page 5 of this issue, and more highlights of our Annual Meeting will appear in next month’s issue.

And finally, I’d like to congratulate our 2022 academic scholarship recipients, Hadley Beechinor (DeSales High School), Cherish Fesler (College Place High School), and Brayden Mohney (Waitsburg High School).

The future is indeed bright.

Be safe, stay healthy,
Scott Peters, CEO