Skip to comments.PacifiCorp may agree to removing dams (Klamath River)
Posted on 08/03/2006 10:14:43 AM PDT by calcowgirl
The new president of PacifiCorp's power generating division says the utility could agree to remove five dams from the Klamath River to help restore salmon if customers don't have to pay more for electricity.
"We have heard the tribes' concerns," PacifiCorp Energy President Bill Fehrman said in a statement posted Wednesday on the utility's Web site. "We are not opposed to dam removal or other settlement opportunities as long as our customers are not harmed and our property rights are respected."
The company said the statement reflected its position all along in talks concerning a new 50-year license to operate the dams. But Native American tribes characterized it as an encouraging move toward restoring salmon to 350 miles of river blocked by the dams for nearly 100 years.
In Portland, about 200 people, mostly members of tribes along the Klamath River, rallied at the Oregon Convention Center where 2,000 hydroelectric experts from around the world met for a conference.
Demonstrators chanted "Undam the Klamath, bring the salmon home" as tribal representatives voiced cautious optimism that the new PacifiCorp management would hear their words.
"The company is behaving differently under the new management," said Craig Tucker, coordinator of the dam removal campaign for the Karuk Tribe. "Certainly when we first started, they said there was no way they were going to consider dam removal. This is the first time they've released a media statement with us saying, 'Dam removal is OK by us.' They just don't want to stick it to (their) ratepayers."
PacifiCorp posted the statement at the request of the Yurok, Karuk, Klamath and other tribes, in conjunction with the rally.
"By working with us on this visionary restoration effort, PacifiCorp could become a model for corporate responsibility," Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said in a statement.
The tribes will be looking to Oregon and California governments to develop a package of grants and tax incentives to help PacifiCorp remove the dams, Tucker said.
The cost of that package will become more clear as the relicensing process continues, and PacifiCorp sees what it will have to spend to continue operating the dams, he added.
PacifiCorp created PacifiCorp Energy and hired Fehrman from a Nebraska power cooperative as part of a reorganization after being taken over this year by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., based in Des Moines, Iowa, and controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett.
Fehrman has been active in settlement talks and has spoken with tribal leaders since becoming president, said Dave Kvamme, a company spokesman.
"We would far prefer reaching a settlement agreeable to all parties than to work through the standard licensing process to its conclusion," Kvamme said, "because we think there's more room for a creative outcome through settlement than there is through standard licensing process."
Once the third-largest producer of salmon on the West Coast, the Klamath River has produced only a fraction of its historic runs since five dams were built between 1917 and 1962. Spring chinook are a remnant of former runs. Fall chinook are struggling. And coho salmon are listed as a threatened species.
To protect the Klamath's struggling fall runs of wild chinook, federal fisheries managers this year cut off most of the commercial salmon fishing along 700 miles of the California and Oregon coastline. The Bush administration is considering an economic disaster declaration to make possible millions of dollars in aid for salmon fishermen.
The dams produce about 150 megawatts, enough to power about 75,000 homes in California. The power represents 1.7 percent of PacifiCorp's total output for 1.6 million customers in six Western states.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to issue an environmental impact statement later this year on PacifiCorp's application for a new license to operate the dams.
As part of the licensing process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said it wants to see fish ladders built over all the dams and fish screens installed on the turbines so salmon can return to the upper Klamath Basin. In the past that would have been mandatory, but changes this year to federal energy law give PacifiCorp a chance to challenge it. An administrative law judge will hear the case starting Aug. 21.
Tribes Call for Removal of Dams That Block Journey of Salmon
Craig Tucker, a spokesman for the Karuk tribe, which has about 3,400 members, said the tribes intended to put pressure on Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski of Oregon and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California to find ways to pay for removing the dams, providing power from other sources and restoring fish habitat along the river, which begins in southern Oregon and meets the Pacific Ocean in Northern California.
Mike Carrier, Mr. Kulongoskis natural resources policy director, is to meet with tribal leaders on Thursday. Mr. Carrier said the governor favored positions of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, both of which say PacificCorp must provide some form of passage for salmon above the dams. The National Marine Fisheries Service specifically says dams should be removed to make that happen, Mr. Carrier said.
Removing the dams and restoring the river for fish would be enormously expensive, Mr. Carrier said, and would really need significant federal support. He said he knew of no reliable estimate of the costs. He said he did not view Mr. Fehrmans comments on Wednesday as a breakthrough, especially with the caveat of as long as our customers are not harmed and our property rights are respected. In other words, dont ask us to bear the costs.
Ping to above.
I think money for this (for California) is still buried in the infrastructure bonds (Prop 1E/AB 140), although the current version of the law stripped all of the detailed spending amounts that were included in prior versions (SB 74/AB134). The generic language remains: "restoration", "wildlife habitat improvement", etc.)
This is so simple. All they have to do is, a)find out who wants the dams knocked down, where ever they are; b)determine the cost which should include possible flood damage and crop loss costs; c)shut off the electricity to the supporters of the dam demolition; d)divide A into B which would pay for this foolishment. This can work as the fools that are against the dams would have a lot of free $$ now that they wouldn`t have an electric bill.
"We are not opposed to dam removal or other settlement opportunities as long as our customers are not harmed and our property rights are respected."
The company said the statement reflected its position all along in talks concerning a new 50-year license to operate the dams.
Takes two to do a lease,maybe the landlord is only offering 50 years. Of course there is no money for this and ratepayers aren`t going to spring for it, so, really, all this is is talk. Does make the wackos in downtown Portland happy.
I'm all for removing the dams - if the trade-off with the enviro-greenies is a new nuclear power plant.
Between the moslims and the Enviroweenies........I'm not sure who will get us back to the dark ages faster............
The full cost of dam removal must include mitigation for lost tax revenue to the County for (1) the value of the dams, (2) the value of lake front private property for more than 1000 landowners; just compensation to those property owners for the loss of value in their property from having the lake drained and bass fishery destroyed; restoration of raw lake bottom to something aesthetically pleasing for the landowners who see it; arrangement for continued access for landowners to the river for recreation; mitigation for properties destroyed or impaired downriver of Iron Gate for raising river levels during certain tiles of the year by more than 4 feet - including several resorts; some sort of flood control mitigation and some sort of regulation of flows to protect recreational boaters, fishermen and miners from dangerous erratic flows; mitigation for the loss of premier white water rafting opportunities in the upper part above Copco; mitigation for any damage to fisheries from release of sediment onto spawning areas and lack of flow control. The estimates for full mitigation amount to well over a billion dollars.
The Klamath River tribes like to say it is only the cost of fish passage vs. actual removal of the dams. Nooooo, there is much more unless all the other parties are to get the shaft.
The question also remains where the stock to reseed the spring chinook and alleged upper Klamath salmon will come from. There were only 50 spring chinook that returned last year to the Salmon River. This is really not enough to reseed an entire system. It is also doubtfull that a race of chinook "still" exists in the system that could make it all the way from the ocean, through the Klamath lakes and into the Sprague and Williamson.
Is it all just a pipe dream - can we go back to the days of yore? Should we try smaller steps like fish passge first instead of ripping out all the plumbing?
It's the payoff.
Thanks for the reality check! I'm for keeping the plumbing. :-)
Interesting that our buddy Buffet is on the receiving end.
If I were the power company I would say, "get the government to give us the right to build, without interference and undue delay, a nuke power plant and we will take down these dams. The parties who want the dams taken down will stand the cost of any flood damage caused by removal of the dams and the cost of removing them".
Flood control was mentioned by FReepers but what about all the sediment behind those dams. It will destroy salmon spanning beds for years in the lower Klamath...
That be salmon SPAWNING beds...you D/A
LOL. You really should talk nicer to yourself. :-)
You know, as a former power company engineer, I will tell you this - the ratepayers and taxpayers better buy some KY, if these dams are removed, because they are about to get gang #####.
The type of "instant energy" for peak usage cannot be matched by a nuke plant when compared to a giant storage battery called a dam and reservoir!!!