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Simpson's NW Infrastructure Plan Invests Heavily in Clean Energy

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021   

BOISE, Idaho -- The Northwest infrastructure plan developed by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, would benefit more than salmon. It would also mean a major investment in clean energy for the region.

Simpson's proposal allocates $10 billion to replace power from the four lower Snake River dams if they're removed.

John Gardner, chair of the mechanical and biomedical engineering department at Boise State University, said the growth in clean-energy storage and capacity has shot up to its greatest level in 50 years.

"There's a big appetite to invest in this area," Gardner asserted. "So I think replacing the energy-generating capacity of the dams is not going to be difficult. I don't think that's a huge lift."

Gardner also noted because of shrinking snowpack in the Northwest and increased energy needs during the region's hotter summers, the dams are losing some of their energy production and usefulness.

Leif Elgethun, founder and CEO of software developer Retrolux and a native Idahoan, said his software platform can help the building industry be more energy efficient and adopt clean energy.

He believes moving away from the Snake River dams and toward other clean-energy technologies is possible and will benefit the people of the Northwest.

"The solutions that we're developing today and the technologies we're developing today are not only better, but they are substantially better than the hydropower options we had in the past," Elgethun contended. "And so, this is a natural evolution."

Gardner believes Simpson's robust plan considers the needs of the entire region.

"Looking at everything come together and seeing how at the end of the day we can have something better; that it's not just a zero-sum game, that things are going to get better for everybody," Gardner remarked. "And I think that's real exciting. I hope we can make progress on it."


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