UTILITIES: Decision in Hell's Canyon

The Northwest's turbulent Snake River is one of the last great U.S. river valleys still unexploited for hydroelectric power. For 125 miles along the Idaho-Oregon boundary line, the Snake tumbles through an almost inaccessible, rocky gorge called Hell's Canyon (see map), where it drops almost twelve feet in every mile. For control of this vast hydroelectric potential, public and private power interests in the power-short Northwest have been fighting for almost five years.

To harness the Snake, the Idaho Power Co. proposed spending $133 million in private funds to build three hydroelectric dams at Oxbow, Brownlee and Hell's Canyon, with...

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