FERC Delivers a Win for Twin Falls in Idaho

States: 

After years of fighting on behalf of the Twin Falls on the Snake River in Idaho, Coalition members recently secured a victory to protect the Falls from drying up.

In 1995, Idaho Power Company, the operator of the Twin Falls hydropower project, proposed to reduce the amount of water flowing through the falls to generate more power. While doing so would have eliminated the natural beauty of the Twin Falls and deprived thousands of visitors of the majestic view that the Falls offers, it would have increased Idaho Power’s income by a mere $50,000 a year.

Fortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency charged with regulating hydropower dams, agreed with the Coalition members that the aesthetic values offered by the Twin Falls are valuable and ruled that Idaho Power could not divert water for additional nominal generation. FERC determined that eliminating flows from the Twin Falls would adversely affect more than 2,200 visitors who enjoy the Twin Falls just during mornings and evenings and “would eliminate unique photography and viewing opportunities.” FERC also did not agree with Idaho Power’s argument that visitors could just drive a few miles downstream to enjoy a different falls.

This is a great win for those of us who care about rivers and enjoy all the non-economic benefits that they provide.