The Emerald People's Utility District near Eugene, Ore., says it will provide "green power" to its customers. The district has agreed to pay 75 percent more to a new partnership between the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and a trio of environmental groups formed to encourage energy production that doesn't harm air quality or salmon. The participating organizations - the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Renewable Northwest Project and the Northwest Energy Coalition - will select a group of experts to "certify" facilities such as wind turbines and small hydroelectric projects that have a minimal impact on fish and air quality. The BPA will then sell this "green' - and more costly - power to utility districts. Utility districts, in turn, will either market the higher-priced green power to consumers or spread the extra cost among all users. Proceeds will be split between investment in renewable energy projects and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a new nonprofit focused on restoring fish and wildlife habitat. The BPA promises that the foundation's contributions won't replace existing programs to help salmon. So far, the environmental organizations involved have given their approval to two existing facilities certified by American Rivers: Packwood Lake, a hydropower project in Washington that harnesses the lake's natural outflow without the need for a dam; and Idaho Falls, a series of small hydroelectric dams on the Snake River.


For more information, contact Michelle Ackermann with the Northwest Energy Coalition at 206/621-4582 or visit their Web site, www.nwenergy.org/nwec.


* Stanley Yung