Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

 PacifiCorp: Dams could go

AP photo/The Oregonian, Steven Nehl Jamila Baldwin, front left, Jose Marquez, 3, center, and Rebbecca Kirk, all from Portland, march during a rally Wednesday in Portland, calling for the removal of PacifiCorp's Klamath River dams to help restore salmon runs.

August 3, 2006

GRANTS PASS (AP) - The new president of PacifiCorp's power generating division says the utility could agree to removing five dams from the Klamath River to help restore salmon if customers don't have to pay more for electricity. ‘‘We have heard the tribes' concerns,'' PacifiCorp Energy President Bill Fehrman said in a statement posted Wednesday on the utility's Web site. ‘‘We are not opposed to dam removal or other settlement opportunities as long as our customers are not harmed and our property rights are respected.''

The company said the statement reflected its position all along in talks over a new 50-year license to operate the dams, but Indian tribes characterized it as an encouraging move toward restoring salmon to 350 miles of rivers blocked by the dams for nearly 100 years. ‘‘The company is behaving differently under the new management,'' Craig Tucker, coordinator of the dam removal campaign for the Karuk Tribe, said from Portland. ‘‘Certainly when we first started, they said there was no way they were going to consider dam removal. This is the first time they've released a media statement with us saying, ‘Dam removal is OK by us.' They just don't want to stick it to (their) ratepayers.''

PacifiCorp posted the statement at the request of the Yurok, Karuk, Klamath and other tribes, in conjunction with the rally they were holding in Portland to bring attention to their campaign to remove the dams.

‘‘By working with us on this visionary restoration effort, PacifiCorp could become a model for corporate responsibility,'' Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said. The tribes will be looking to the states of Oregon and California to develop a package of grants and tax incentives to help PacifiCorp remove the dams, Tucker said.

The cost of that package will become more clear as the relicensing process continues and PacifiCorp sees what it will have to spend to continue operating the dams, he added.

PacifiCorp created PacifiCorp Energy and hired Fehrman from a Nebraska power cooperative as part of a reorganization after being taken over this year by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., based in Des Moines, Iowa, and controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett.

Fehrman has taken an active role in settlement talks, and spoken with tribal leaders, since becoming president, said company spokesman Dave Kvamme.

‘‘We would far prefer reaching a settlement agreeable to all parties than to work through the standard licensing process to its conclusion because we think there's more room for a creative outcome through settlement than there is through standard licensing process,'' Kvamme said.

Salmon runs

Once the third-largest producer of salmon on the West Coast, the Klamath River has produced only a fraction of its historic runs since the five dams - the Keno, J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate - were built between 1917 and 1962.

Spring chinook are a remnant of former runs. Fall chinook are struggling. And coho salmon are listed as a threatened species. To protect the Klamath's struggling fall runs of wild chinook, federal fisheries managers this year cut off most of the commercial salmon fishing along 700 miles of the California and Oregon coastline. The Bush administration is considering an economic disaster declaration to make possible millions of dollars in aid for salmon fishermen.

Power production

The dams produce about 150 megawatts, enough to power about 75,000 homes in California. The power represents 1.7 percent of PacifiCorp's total output for 1.6 million customers in six Western states.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to issue an environmental impact statement later this year on PacifiCorp's application for a new license to operate the dams. As part of the licensing process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said it wants to see fish ladders built over all the dams and fish screens installed on the turbines so salmon can return to the upper Klamath Basin. In the past that would have been mandatory, but changes this year to federal energy law give PacifiCorp a chance to challenge it. An administrative law judge will hear the case starting Aug. 21.

On the Net: PacifiCorp: www.pacificorp.com


Home Contact


Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2006, All Rights Reserved