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http://business.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1669242005
 
ScottishPower's hostile AGM
followed by
Scottish Parliament to Consider Resolution to Support Klamath River Tribe's Campaign to Remove Dams
Other articles:
Tribes have returned to press case
The Herald, UK - Jul 20, 2005

COLIN DONALD

SCOTTISHPOWER chairman Charles Miller Smith yesterday attempted to convince restive shareholders that recent rises in its share price owed as much to performance as to takeover rumours, as the debacle of the US business PacifiCorp again dominated its annual meeting.

Rumours that the disposal of one of its US businesses will make ScottishPower a likely takeover target have sent shares soaring in recent months, valuing the company at 9.59 billion.

At the Glasgow meeting, the utility's board were faced by a barrage of hostile questions, including several about chief executive Ian Russell's 1.38 million annual pay packet relative to corporate performance.

But the main drama of the day came when Miller Smith was all-but forced by shareholder acclamation to allow speeches from representatives of the native American Hoopa tribe on the environmental damage of "ScottishPower dams" on the Klamath River in northern California.

Earlier, members of the tribe met Russell and PacifiCorp president Judi Johansen, and declared themselves unimpressed by the company's argument that consultations about removing dams that prevent salmon from swimming up-river were taking account of other "stakeholders" in the area. The issue is in the hands of the US regulators, and, following the dismissal of symbolic suits against PacifiCorp by native American groups, has no further legal implications for ScottishPower.

But the board were to face repeated further references from the floor about the "debacle" of PacifiCorp, the $9.4bn sale of which to MidAmerican Energy was announced earlier this year, representing a loss of almost 1bn from its 1999 purchase price. Several shareholders claimed that the US episode had turned out as they had predicted at previous AGMs.

Heavy criticism of the performance of the company, whose 510p share price was compared unfavourably with that of rival Scottish and Southern Energy's 950p, forced the chairman to depart from AGM convention and concede that the PacifiCorp adventure was regrettable.

"When looked at in the context of today, it was the right decision to exit, though if you had looked at the evidence in 1998 and 1999 it was right to go in."

He followed this with a virtual plea to shareholders that they "forget the past" and appreciated that the company was now fully focused on investing for organic growth and improving operational performance in its three continuing businesses.

Both he and Russell issued what to some ears sounded like a desperate attempt to sweeten the mood of the meeting with promises of a $4.5bn hand-back to shareholders when the disposal of PacifiCorp was completed, although they declined to be drawn on details of whether the money would be returned to shareholders as a special dividend.

After Stan Blackley of the Hoopa, whose passionate invocation of the ancient fishing and ceremonial rights of his tribe electrified the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the second most passionate speech of the day was by the chairman on the contrasting subject matter of the chief executive's 1.38m pay package. Insisting that "we don't pay Ian just to be nice to him", Miller Smith insisted that there was "no funny business" about the calculation of directors' remuneration.

Scottish Parliament to Consider Resolution to Support Klamath River Tribe's Campaign to Remove Dams

 
By: Karuk Tribe
Published: July 22, 2005 at 08:55
 

 

Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) Robin Harper announced today that he will be introducing a resolution to support the Hoopa, Karuk, Klamath, and Yurok Tribe's efforts to have Klamath River Dams removed, and the fishery restored. These are the three largest tribes in California and the largest in Oregon.

The Tribes are campaigning in Scotland to pressure multinational energy giant Scottish Power (NYSE - SPI) to remove dams which block over 350 miles of spawning habitat for salmon and degrade water quality. Since the building of the dams, Klamath salmon numbers have plummeted to less that 8% of their historic levels, devastating tribal cultures and local economies.

The dams are operateded by Scottish Power's American subsidiary, PacifiCorp, based in Portland, Oregon.

For Tribes, salmon represent more than economic opportunity, they are the centerpiece of their culture. In addition, Tribal members, many of whom live in poverty, rely on subsistence fishing to feed their families. For these people, the dams deny access to healthy traditional food sources. Traditional Karuk Fishermen Ron Reed puts it bluntly, "These dams literally take food from the mouths of our children."

Last year, the Tribes traveled to Scotland and met with Scottish Power CEO Ian Russell. Russell committed to "find the right solution" to the problem. However, after a year of talks, the company's official license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission makes no mention of fish passage of any kind. In addition, Scottish Power has announced plans to sale PacifiCorp to Warren Buffet owned Mid American Energy, based in Des Moines, IA. Financial analysts say that the $10 billion deal will take 12-18 months to complete.

The current dam license expires March of 2006. Federal dam licenses typically last 30-50 years.

According the MSP Harper, "When Scottish Power bought PacifiCorp they bought the responsibilities- and liabilities- that went with that ownership. The salmon is under threat in both the Pacific and Atlantic from pollution, poor river management, fish farming, over-fishing and climate change. Scottish Power should do everything it can to achieve the best environmental standards and live up to their responsibilities. The name "Scottish Power" cannot be taken to imply that the company's actions have the approval of the people of Scotland."

According to Merv George, Jr., who attended last year's meeting with Ian Russell, "Mr. Russell told us last year that we could trust him to resolve this issue. We want to know that he is committed to solving the Klamath problem, not selling it to someone else."

Merv George is the Director of the Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission. The Commission is comprised of the Karuk, Klamath, Hoopa, and Yurok Tribes.

The Tribes hope to resolve the fate of the Klamath dams before they are forced to deal with another energy corporation. If necessary, they are willing to intervene in the regulatory proceedings governing the sale.

However, with their livelihoods, culture, and the health of their children at stake, Tribal leaders are intent on restoring their fishery no matter who owns the dams.


 
 
This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA, the Klamath Basin, and private property rights can be found at The Klamath Bucket Brigade's website - http://www.klamathbucketbrigade.org/ -- please visit today.
 

 

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