Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Spring 2012


Tugrul Daim

Course Title

Energy Technology Innovations

Course Number

ETM 510/610


Renewable energy sources -- Social aspects, Renewable energy sources -- Political aspects, Electric power production -- Technological innovations -- Management


The Columbia River is a dynamic water system, and for over a century the river’s resources have been used for a variety of purposes. Perhaps most notably are the series of dams located along most of the main stem of the river that provide multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits. One benefit of importance for the purposes of this paper is hydropower, which provides large amounts of electrical power to communities and industries across the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region.

However, the success of hydropower’s long and productive history in the PNW has at times been clouded by socio-political, economic, and environmental issues that arise over how Columbia River water resources are managed for multiple uses and which ones take precedence. Further complicating these conflicts are ecological systems that can significantly alter the river’s conditions. Winter rain and spring snowmelt are two such characteristics of the river’s ecology that make the management of the river for hydropower purposes very difficult. Add another variable – the introduction and integration of wind power in this hydropower system and one quickly realizes that management of the river includes multiple actors with various agendas often resulting in conflict.

The discussion below highlights the socio-political factors, as well as the regulatory and economic factors that, in their aggregate, exert pressure on the future of wind power deployment in the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)’s balancing authority. I begin by describing a high water management problem that BPA and its

stakeholders have encountered several times in the past few years, which is the key issue that I focus on that inhibits this deployment. I then delve into a discussion of the research methodology – SPEED, which is used to analyze the problem and provide a management roadmap forward. After the SPEED analysis, a brief discussion of the implications of this particular problem is provided. It should be noted before continuing that this discussion focuses on how to mitigate complex management challenges in supporting the continued deployment of technology innovations.


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