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NWPCC approves study of fish tagging program

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has approved evaluation of its Fish Tagging Forum to determine the cost effectiveness of various tagging tools.

This economic analysis is intended to evaluate the fish tagging program and its cost-effectiveness. Technologies being studied include acoustic, passive integrated transponder, coded wire and radiotelemetry tags, genetic marking and otolith marks. Attributes being discussed include basic design/function; associated detection, recovery and data management infrastructure; unit and life cycle costs; relevance to specific management questions; application limitations; and potential for technological advancement.

Central questions being posed are:

- What is the most cost-effective technology or technologies to answer management questions with the desired level of confidence?

- How would eliminating a specific tagging technology alter the effectiveness and cost of existing programs?

- What technologies appear to be the most cost-effective way to address management questions or the highest priority management questions as identified by NWPCC, the Bonneville Power Administration or all interested parties?

NWPCC is charged by the Northwest Power Act to develop a fish and wildlife program for the Columbia River Basin that achieves its biological objectives with minimum economic cost. Fish tagging and marking play important roles for stock assessment, research, management and recovery efforts for salmonid and other fishes. Information obtained from tagging efforts influences decisions on management of the hydro system, such as water spill at dams and fish transport.

This research is expected to cost $54,700 and be completed by May 2013.

Interior conducts "high-flow" study at Glen Canyon plant

The U.S. Department of the Interior conducted a "high-flow experimental release" at Arizona's Glen Canyon Dam on Nov. 19. The release was part of a long-term protocol announced in May by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the first such release from the 1,312-MW Glen Canyon project since 2008.

These releases are being conducted because of concern regarding the condition of the downstream ecosystem with regard to fine sediment that forms sandbars and habitat for fish rearing. The high-flow releases redeposit sediment in other parts of the river and data is collected. The goal of this work is to determine whether there is a sustainable mode of dam operation that will rebuild and maintain sandbar habitats over decades without resorting to augmenting the sediment naturally supplied by tributaries.

In Glen Canyon's case, Interior says that before flows were released, "scientists … determined that the right conditions exist" based on "sediment deposited by Colorado River tributaries as a result of recent rainstorms and monsoons." The high-flow release lasted nearly five days and reached about 42,300 cubic feet per second, consisting of 27,300 cfs through the hydro plant and a bypass release of 15,000 cfs through four outlet tubes.

EPRI announces availability of two case study technical reports

The Electric Power Research Institute has released two technical reports: Results from Case Studies of Pumped-Storage Plants and Results from Case Studies of Conventional Hydroelectric Plants.

For the pumped storage report, EPRI says detailed plant performance analyses were conducted using unit and plant performance characteristics and one-minute plant operational data from 2008, 2009 and 2010 for five plants. The analyses evaluated reductions in overall plant efficiencies under a variety of operation-related and market-related conditions for the plants.

These case studies encompass three energy markets and one non-market region. Plant owners include three investor-owned utilities, a state power authority and a federal power corporation.

Results show that non-market operations by vertically integrated utilities resulted in more efficient plant performance than the market-based utilities. The report identifies opportunities for market and plant improvements to reduce avoidable suboptimization, EPRI says.

For the conventional report, EPRI says the same analyses were conducted as described above, for three plants.

Results show that non-market operation of the conventional plant exhibited more efficient performance than the two plants operating in established markets. The report also identifies cost-effective plant improvements to reduce avoidable suboptimization and avoidable losses in conventional plants, EPRI says.

- The reports can be downloaded free at

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