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Feds OK expert panel for Klamath River dam removal review


Proponents of a plan to remove four Klamath River dams to improve water quality and fish health were encouraged last week after a federal commission approved their panel of experts who will be responsible for determining what it will take to undergo what officials say is the largest dam removal project in the nation’s history, according to the nonprofit heading the project.

The dam removal plan, encapsulated in the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The four hydroelectric dams — Iron Gate, Copco 1 and 2, and J.C. Boyle — are owned by the Oregon-based company PacifiCorp. The plan will involve transferring ownership of the dams to the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation, created in 2016 to head the dam removal effort.

As part of the federal commission’s review of the dam removal plan, an independent panel of experts had to be created to provide a review of the plan.

“The scope of the [board of consultants’] review extends to all aspects of the proposed dam removal process, including financial feasibility,” Klamath River Renewal Corporation Executive Director Mark Bransom said in a statement. “The first task the [board] will undertake is to review the project’s cost estimates, as well as the proposed insurance and bonding coverages. Over the course of the project, we anticipate that the [board’s] additional reviews will enhance design and construction plans and may lead to construction efficiencies and cost savings.”

Dam removal is now slated to begin in 2021, assuming the plan is approved. The project was originally estimated to cost about $450 million with PacifiCorp ratepayers contributing $200 million and California contributing $250 million through its 2014 water bond, Proposition 1.

The dam removal plan must also receive water quality certifications from both California and Oregon before the project can be approved.

More information on the project and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation can be found online at http://www.klamathrenewal.org



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