Power contract goes to the state
Thursday, May 26, 2005
By DYLAN DARLING
Talks about a power
contract between Klamath Basin irrigators and
PacifiCorp that has kept rates at about half a
cent per kilowatt hour have shifted to a state
The Oregon Public Utility Commission heard oral
arguments last week from both irrigators and from
company officials. The commission also took public
comments at a March open house in Klamath Falls.
"The forum now is the PUC,"
said Jon Coney, company spokesman.
The company isn't having any talks directly with
irrigators, he said. It's now all going through
At issue is a 1956 contract that keeps rates down
for Basin irrigators. The contract is set to
expire in April 2006 and PacifiCorp officials said
rates could go up tenfold, to about 5 1/2 cents
per kilowatt hour, the amount paid by other
irrigators around the state of Oregon.
Bob Valdez, commission spokes-man, said the case
should be decided "soon," but gave no specific
"It's real complicated," he said. "it's not a real
cut and dry, up and down-type thing."
Earlier this week ScottishPower, the current owner
of PacifiCorp, announced it was selling the
company to a Warren Buffett energy enterprise out
of Iowa, but company officials said the coming
sale wouldn't change the complicated contract
issue. The sale is expected to be finalized in a
year to 18 months, pending regulatory approval.
Scott Seus, a member of the Klamath Water Users
Association's power committee, said the sale of
PacifiCorp shouldn't affect the power contract
"That contract is tied to
the dams," he said.
The owner of the dams and the holder of the
contract have changed before, Seus said. In 1961
PacifiCorp bought Copco, which had built the dams,
mostly in the first half of the 1900s.
The committee has been working on the issue since
1998 and been in active talks with PacifiCorp for
a year and-a-half. Now those talks are before the