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David Sparks Ph.d Hells Canyon
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: November 07, 2017

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Owyhee County Commissioner Joe Merrick recently spoke to a gathering of leaders interested in agriculture about the relicensing of the Idaho Power facilities complex in Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon Dam is located on the Snake River, at river mile 247.5, 23 miles downstream from Oxbow Dam. Hells Canyon Dam is located on the Snake River, at river mile 247.5, 23 miles downstream from Oxbow Dam.

 

In the 1940s, Idaho Power envisioned the need for hydropower from Hells Canyon. In 1947, Idaho Power applied for a license to develop the three-project Hells Canyon Complex on the Snake River. After a bitter political contest with public power advocateswho wanted to build one high dam in the canyon, the Federal Power Commission (now known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC) issued Idaho Power a license on August 4, 1955, to build the Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon power plants. The narrow canyon prevented crews from locating the switchyard adjacent to the powerhouse and generators, like most hydropower projects. Instead the switchyard was mounted on the dam's face. Helicopters helped move tools and equipment and were used to erect transmission towers. These towers support the transmission lines that carry electricity out of the canyon on the Oregon side.Construction crews built Hells Canyon Dam to full height in only six months.

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