price set for removing Klamath River dams
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The nonprofit organization working to tear
down four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River in
southern Oregon and northern California has provided its latest
cost estimate for the project to federal energy regulators.
In a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb.
28, the Klamath River Renewal Corp. estimates full dam removal
will cost $446 million — within the project’s $450 million
KRRC formed in 2016 as part of the amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement to carry out removal of the J.C. Boyle,
Copco 1, Copco 2 and Iron Gate dams, opening about 400 miles of
upstream habit for threatened coho salmon and steelhead. But
first, FERC must approve transfer of the dams’ operating license
from PacifiCorp to the KRRC, which submitted its 2,300-page
“Definite Plan” for razing the four dams in 2018.
Mark Bransom, KRRC executive director, said this latest filing
proves they have the funding, team and expertise to get the
“Our project is on track, within budget and ready to roll,”
Bransom said in a statement. “Healthy rivers breathe life into
the communities they touch. Dam removal and a revitalized
Klamath River will enhance resiliency to strengthen the entire
Klamath watershed for the future.”
The $446 million price tag is considered the “guaranteed maximum
price,” including $199 million for Kiewit Infrastructure West,
the project’s main contractor, and $78 million for Resource
Environmental Solutions, which will head the environmental
cleanup and restoration effort.
Some $50 million is earmarked as contingency funding for
unanticipated costs, with the remainder covering personnel
costs, planning and engineering work to date.
Funding for dam removal comes primarily from PacifiCorp
ratepayers, who have contributed $200 million, and up to $250
million from California Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion statewide
water bond that passed in 2014.
Built between 1911 and 1962, the lower Klamath River dams have a
total generation capacity of 169 megawatts. Farmers, tribes,
environmental groups and government agencies all signed on to
the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement in 2010 to remove
the dams for fish passage.
American Rivers, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group
dedicated to protecting wild rivers, has stated the Klamath
River restoration project is arguably one of the most
significant dam removal projects in U.S. history.
They might not be the tallest dams ever removed — the tallest of
the four Klamath River dams, Iron Gate, stands at 173 feet tall,
37 feet shorter than the Glines Canyon Dam on Washington’s Elwha
River, which came down in 2014. Removal of two dams on Maine’s
Penobscot River in 2012 and 2013 also opened more fish habitat,
at 1,000 miles.
Yet the Klamath River dam removal is expected to cost more than
those two projects combined. The Elwha River project came in at
$324.7 million, and the Penobscot River project at $54 million.
As part of the review process, an independent board of
consultants approved by the feds will review the KRRC’s latest
filing and submit its own report to FERC in mid-March.
The KRRC anticipates it will begin drawing down reservoirs for
dam removal in 2022, though dates are subject to change.
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