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Alliance begins seeking stable power rate
Number of participants will determine power load from Bonneville
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 9/15/11
Irrigators have until Oct. 7 to submit an application of interest for a power program meant to stabilize the cost of power used in agricultural pumping.
The affordable power program, administered by the nonprofit Klamath Basin Power Alliance, is part of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement’s effort to reduce — or at least stabilize — power rates for irrigators, said Hollie Cannon, director of Klamath Water and Power Agency, part of the alliance.
“The federal program will not be a lot less than the (Pacific Power) rate,” Cannon said. “But it will be a stable price. That means it won’t be a big savings now, immediately, but they’ll see savings in the long term.”
The KBRA is a controversial agreement that aims to establish sustainable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, restore fish habitats, and help the Klamath Tribes acquire a 92,000-acre parcel of private timberland, the Mazama Tree Farm.
Power rates increasing
Officials have said power rates are a key issue in the KBRA as Oregon irrigators approach full tariff prices for irrigation — more than 10 0 percent above what they pay now.
In 2006, when a 50-year contract between Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators and PacifiCorp ended, Project irrigators had to start paying what other irrigators in Oregon and Northern California paid — far more than the half-cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) the contract allowed.
Higher prices were gradually implemented through a tariff system. Currently irrigators pay about 4 cents per kWh. Next year they’ll pay full tariff, around 9 cents per kWh.
One irrigation pump uses between 140,000 kWh and 240,000 kWh annually.
The KBRA program aims to stabilize prices by buying power from Bonneville Power Administration, a federal power marketing agency that sells electricity to private and public utilities, at a reduced rate, Cannon said. The power would be distributed using PacifiCorp’s infrastructure.
If the KBRA is funded, the program also would incorporate renewable energy — using hydro, solar or wind power to buy down power rates, he said.
But that’s many years in the future, Cannon said. First, officials need to find out how many of the nearly 3,000 eligible pumps will participate in the program.
To be eligible:
• An irrigation pump must move water for agricultural purposes.
• The irrigator must agree to pre-determined terms, which will likely involve some restoration activity, such as fencing cattle from a river’s edge or helping vegetation grow near a water body.
The alliance still must determine specific terms, but it will do that over the next three to four months, as Bonneville Power Administration figures out the power load required to serve interested irrigators, said Karl Scronce, an alliance member.
Participants don’t have to be signatories to the KBRA.
“This is for anyone who moves agricultural water,” Scronce said, noting that even if people flood irrigate, irrigation districts pay to pump water through canals and to drain runoff, causing significant power bills.
AUDIO 9/28/11 - Klamath Basin "Power for Water Agreement" Holly Cannon, KWAPA / Klamath Water and Power Agency (power part of the KBRA / Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement), Executive Director, held meeting in Tulelake to urge irrigators to sign onto the "low-cost power for water" agreement..."...that's what the KBRA is about, is bringing "low-cost power..."
Page Updated: Saturday October 01, 2011 02:17 AM Pacific
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