Hydropower Production in Grand Teton
Lower Valley Energy (LVE), the local power cooperative in Jackson, Wyoming, is proposing a hydropower development on the Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park. Their interest in the project stems from a desire to generate ‘clean and green’ energy source for the park that would allow the park to be self-sustaining in terms of energy production and eliminate dependence on coal energy production. While at face value this appears to be a laudable goal, there are serious implications that must be considered when any industrial project is being considered within a national park.
Grand Teton is already impacted by many grandfathered uses including an airport, cattle grazing, and a federal highway through the park. Cumulatively, these uses are chipping away at the park’s core values-its scenic and natural resources. A hydropower project would just be one more chink in the park’s armor.
Although the land where the dam was constructed was withdrawn from the park in the early 1900’s to allow for downstream irrigation, these lands are still managed as national park lands, and are central to park recreation and visitor activities. This proposal is asking that the Jackson Lake Dam be converted and used for a dramatically different and potentially competing use for the services that the dam already provides. These services include irrigation demands, natural resource needs and recreational uses of the river. What’s to prevent energy production from becoming the dominant use, at the expense of other needs and values? This project goes beyond a ‘greening the park’ initiative, and seeks to increase overall power supplies to meet the demands of the region. NPCA feels that other options need to be explored outside of the park to fulfill those needs
A more appropriate solution that has already been put into action by Grand Teton is to purchase green energy from Lower Valley Energy to help reduce their carbon footprint and work to reduce their usage through LEEDS certification of buildings and energy conservation.