(Klamath) Tribes protest Swan Lake pumped
Herald and News by Gerry O'Brien 11/1/16
Tribes has filed a protest in opposition to the Swan Lake
North pumped storage hydroelectric project because it would
affect cultural and sacred resources in the Swan Lake Rim
In its Oct. 25
filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC),
the Tribes also claim that it did not receive timely notice
to qualify as an intervenor against the project for most of
The Swan Lake
North project, located on the Jespersen Ranch, would take
five years to build and create about 170 local construction
jobs, proponents say. As many as 3,000 direct and related
jobs could be created under the plan.
is a “closed loop” electrical generating system. Proponents
plan to build two reservoirs, separated by 1,600 feet in
elevation, which use gravity to feed three turbines to
generate up to 400 megawatts of electricity. When not in
use, the water is pumped back from the lower reservoir to
Water will come
from private, underground wells on the land, which should
not affect the surface water rights. About 3,000 acre feet
of water will be needed to fill a reservoir. In subsequent
years, 420 acre feet will be needed annually to supplement
transmission line would be built from the site, crossing
Bureau of Land Management and private land, to Malin to
connect with the power grid.
The direct and
related jobs created for the nine years of pre-construction
and five years of construction are estimated at 170 for
Klamath County and 1,270 for workers across Oregon. The cost
of the entire project is pegged at just less than $1
billion. When operational, 11 workers will run the site,
with 24 support jobs.
protest letter claims the project “would severely affect the
visual and aesthetic landscape as experienced from the Swan
Lake Rim, which has been an important feature to the
traditions of the peoples of the Klamath Tribes.”
construction would disturb sacred stacked rock prayer sites
and use of explosives during construction could panic
wildlife, the protest letter said.
following the FERC process for hydropower licensing and have
additional archaeology to do in the field to inform FERC,
ourselves and the Tribes as to what cultural resources might
be present,” said Joe Eberhardt, hydropower director for EDF
Renewable Energy of Portland, the project’s developer. “
additional archaeology investigations that need to be done,
identify and potential cultural sites and register them as
the company plans to review the results with the Tribes for
its input. It may take six to nine more months to complete
that archaeology work, he said.
“We both are in
need more information. Future study of the site will reveal
that,” Eberhardt said.
The Tribes also
noted that when FERC published its notice for intervenors
and protests on Dec. 24, 2015, the deadline for filing a
protest was Feb. 16, 2016.
The Tribes did
not receive any direct communication from FERC about the
notice, even though the project is within the traditional
territories of the Tribes and just south of the border of
the Tribes’ Treaty Reserved lands.
Tribes was also
concerned about the 30-day comment period set last August
after the public scoping meetings, claiming that FERC did
not set up a “government to government” meeting to consult
with the Tribes on scoping, thus violating its own policies.
If there are no
delays, FERC could issue a 50-year license as early as March
2018. Bids would go out within nine months, and construction
could begin in early 2019.
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