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PacifiCorp seeks parallel deals for dam renewal, related issues



PacifiCorp announced Monday a proposal to establish a separate process for dealing with contentious issues being raised as it seeks a 50-year renewal of its permit to operate dams in the Klamath River Basin.

The company wants to set up a "parallel settlement process" to deal with thorny questions such as fish passage and removal of hydroelectric dams.

PacifiCorp submitted its 7,000-page license application last February for the system of dams that generate a total of 151 megawatts of power.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission formally accepted the application Aug. 16. PacifiCorp's existing license for the dams expires in 2006.

As part of the FERC relicensing process, PacifiCorp has held hundreds of meetings with representatives of federal, state and local governments, Native American tribes, environmental groups and others since January 2000.

But many issues remain unresolved as FERC begins eval uatingthepermitapplication.SPANP

"This thing is far from over," said Jon Coney, PacifiCorp spokesman.

Rather than try to resolve the issues through the FERC process, PacifiCorp officials are asking the groups involved to work together in a collaborative settlement process, he said.

FERC's licensing process is not flexible enough when stakeholders have diverging beliefs about future outcomes for hydroelectric projects, according to a company press release distributed Monday.

"It's pretty rigid and doesn't allow for a lot of leeway," Coney said.

Company officials said it is common for government agencies and other stakeholders to negotiate and offer FERC a multi-party settlement agreement, and then for FERC to adopt the terms of that agreement in the new license.

How the settlement process would work for the Klamath River hasn't been established yet, Coney said, but it could end up changing what the project looks like.

"PacifiCorp has not prejudged the future of the project, and all options continue to be on the table," said Judi Johansen, PacifiCorp president and CEO in a press release.

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