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FERC hosts Klamath Dam meetings

01.30    A crowd of concerned citizens, local, California and Oregon state and federal officials, PacifiCorp representatives, and attorneys for various interested parties filled the Miners Inn for a meeting regarding possible Klamath dam removal
By Mike Slizewski, Siskiyou Daily News January 30, 2009

Yreka, Calif. - Note: Afternoon and evening public meetings were hosted Thursday at the Miner’s Inn in Yreka by three Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) officials on the Agreement in Principle (AIP) regarding the Klamath Hydroelectric Project Relicensing Proceeding (FERC Project No. 2082), which addresses the potential removal of four dams on the Klamath River: the Iron Gate, Copco No. 1,  Copco No. 2, and J.C. Boyle dams. Representing FERC were Klamath Project Coordinator for Relicensing John Mudre, Director Ann Miles from the Office of Energy Division of Hydropower Relicensing, and that office's West Branch 2 Chief Timothy J. Welch. Welch provided an electronic copy of the PowerPoint presentation to the Siskiyou Daily News.

Today's article is simply a converted and edited copy of that presentation. To ensure accuracy on one of the most significant issues of the day for Northern California and South Oregon residents, articles on the numerous concerns, questions and answers from those in attendance are being held and will appear throughout next week's Daily News pages, along with additional photographs.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Agreement in Principle within the context of FERC’s relicensing proceeding for the Klamath Hydroelectric Project.

FERC’s Policy Statement on Hydropower Licensing Settlements, issued September 21, 2006, states: “The Commission favors settlements but cannot automatically accept all settlements, or all provisions of settlements. The commission must make a public interest determination based on the entire record. Settlement measures must be supported by substantial evidence, consistent with law and enforceable (within Commission jurisdiction), related to project effects or purposes and to reserve the commission’s compliance authority within its jurisdiction.

Areas of Concern include damages, cost sharing, cost caps, and funds/funding.
Commission approval can’t be ceded.

(FERC) Chairman (Joseph T.) Kelliher’s Statement: On Dec. 19, 2008 Chairman Kelliher stated that settling parties should involve commission staff so that settlements do not contain provisions that are contrary to (FERC’s) policy and that can not be incorporated into a license.

FERC’s Understanding of the AIP: The Agreement in Principle for the “continued operation and potential future removal of PacifiCorp’s Klamath River dams “Establishes a framework for resolution of the relicensing proceeding, as well as other litigation and controversies related to the project.”

Parties included PacifiCorp, the United States departments of Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the states of California and Oregon.

The Agreement in Principle regards the potential removal of Iron Gate Dam, Copco No. 1 Dam, Copco No. 2 Dam and  J.C. Boyle Dam. Remaining dams are the Keno Dam (transferred to United States), and Fall Creek Diversions (to be determined). The East Side and West Side (power generation plants) will be decommissioned.

Timeline: Final Agreement – June 29, 2009; Feasibility Studies – 2009 to 2012; “U.S. Determination” (decision) on removal – by 2012; Interim Operating Conditions – 2009 to removal; Transfer to Non-Federal “Dam Removal Entity” – 2020; and (potentially) Begin Dam Removal – 2020 - 2025.

Final Agreement (FA): “The parties would execute a Final Agreement (FA), by June 29, 2009.  The FA would detail procedures, schedules, agency and legislative actions, and interim operating and conservation measures that intend to result in the removal, beginning as soon as 2020, of Klamath Project mainstem dams.”

Interim Operating Conditions: PacifiCorp would file a license amendment application in order to implement interim operation and conservation measures at the project, including: changes in flows below project dams, restrictions on generation, installation/testing of turbine venting, gravel placement below Iron Gate Dam, increased fall flow variability, and creation of funds and funding of various programs.

Necessary related actions:  The AIP and/or the FA would be null and void and the project returned to FERC proceeding under a number of circumstances, including: failure to execute the Final Agreement, failure of passage of necessary federal and state legislation, failure of state Public Utility Commissions to act per the AIP, U.S. determination that costs exceed benefit, costs exceed limits established in the AIP and FA, state water boards requiring additional studies, and litigation.

Options for Licensing Proceeding under the Federal Power Act include license issuance, license denial, license surrender, license transfer, non-power license and federal takeover.

License Issuance: The project would continue to operate under an annual license until a new license is issued.

License Denial: If license is denied, a surrender proceeding would be initiated.

License Surrender: The licensee would file an application to surrender the project, which could include dam removal, the record being supplemented as needed, and project operation under an annual license continuing for a set period of time.

License Transfer: The licensee would file an application to transfer the project, and similar licensing options would be available to transferee.

Non-power license: A non-power license is a temporary license that the Commission terminates when it determines that another governmental agency will assume regulatory and supervision over the project.

Federal takeover: Federal takeover and operation of the project would require congressional approval.  No agency has recommended federal takeover.

Questions for Moving Forward: What is interaction between AIP and licensing options we discussed? Should separated staff be designated?

Further Comment: All correspondence must clearly show at the top of the first page “Klamath Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. 2082-027.”
Submit all comments to:
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC  20426

The final PowerPoint slide was a map of the potentially impacted Klamath Basin.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the United States federal agency with jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, hydroelectric licensing, natural gas pricing, and oil pipeline rates. FERC also reviews and authorizes liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, interstate natural gas pipelines and non-federal hydropower projects.

Numerous concerns were raised. Look for articles throughout next week’s Siskiyou Daily News.
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