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Northwest Energy Policy and the Columbia River

Reviewing the history, politics and institutions influencing current energy policy and Columbia River management issues in the Pacific Northwest.

Energy Resources: Policy and Administration

Join a distinguished team of faculty members and guest speakers as a participant in PSU’s biennial spring seminar on Northwest Energy Policy and the Columbia River. 

Download sample syllabus (2012)  |  Read student testimonials | Download course flyer

Register for graduate credit (CRN 64706) | Register for non-credit professional development

This course is designed to serve two key audiences:

  • Graduate students from a wide range of disciplines at PSU and other local universities who are interested in understanding how and why our region’s energy policy has reached its current state, what our region’s current energy policy issues are and why they are important. This seminar’s official title for participants taking the course for graduate credit is Energy Resources Policy and Administration.
  • Mid-career professionals already working in the energy field, and others interested in advancing their careers or just learning more about this fascinating subject. 

For many years, the Bonneville Power Administration, several local utilities, the Energy Trust of Oregon, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and other key energy companies and agencies have encouraged and supported those employees they have identified as possible future leaders to enroll in this course. This participant mix leads to lively and informative class discussions. In fact, by participating in this class, employers have identified and recruited excellent future employees, and graduate students have found excellent jobs in this fascinating field.  Many of the Northwest’s most respected energy leaders enrolled in this course earlier in their careers. Many have generously returned as guest speakers to help us prepare the next generation of energy leaders. 

Examine the origins and history of, and institutional context for, Northwest energy policy.

This course explores the reasons behind the development of an unusually strong federal role in energy policy within the Columbia Basin, the politics behind the creation of the BPA, the negotiation of the original Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada, the development of the Pacific Northwest-Pacific Southwest Transmission Interties, the launching of the Hydro-Thermal Power Program, the passage of the Northwest Power and Conservation Act of 1980, the role of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council established by this Act, the restructuring of the electric utility industry, the challenges from other regions of the country to what they contend are the Northwest’s “special deals” and “subsidies”, and significant recent developments and controversies affecting the Northwest’s electric power industry.

>> Read more about the course design and content

Engage with a stellar list of guest speakers to explore current policy issues and debates.

We have invited the Northwest’s top energy policy makers and analysts to discuss and debate some of the most important “hot policy topics” currently under discussion, and explore their implications for the future of the region’s economy and vitality of the Columbia River ecosystem.

>> Read more on the policy topics 

>> See list of guest speakers over the last 5 years

Get an inside view of the NW energy industry.

Two optional field trips will bring students into agencies and organizations that play a role in the formulation of energy policy in the northwest.

Distance Learning Options

Do you live outside the Portland metro area or expect to be out of town for a couple of class sessions? We've got you covered through Distance Learning. >> Learn more about our distance learning options