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PacifiCorp Considers $300M Fish Ladders

By JEFF BARNARD February 7, 2007

PacifiCorp said Wednesday it is willing to spend $300 million to build fish ladders and other means to get salmon over its Klamath River hydroelectric dams rather than tear them out and build a new generating plant to replace the power.

The Portland-based utility serving 1.6 million customers in six Western states said it already has a shortage of power, and feels it is better to hang onto the 150 megawatts produced by the Klamath dams than to face the unknown costs of managing sediment released by dam removal and rising prices of natural gas to generate replacement power.

Company spokesman Dave Kvamme said dam removal remained on the table in settlement talks with Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups that have been campaigning hard to remove the dams as a way of restoring struggling salmon runs in the Klamath.

Federal fisheries agencies last week required the PacifiCorp (amex: PPW.PR - news - people ) to provide for salmon to swim freely over the four dams straddling the Oregon-California border as a mandatory condition of obtaining a new license to operate them for the next 30 to 50 years, raising pressure on PacifiCorp to consider the cheaper alternative of removing the dams.

The river was once the third-biggest producer of salmon on the West Coast, but last year federal fisheries managers practically shut down commercial salmon fishing after the third straight year of poor returns of wild chinook.
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