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KWUA centennial celebration power committee speech
by Scott Seus, Chairman KWUA power committee 10/11/05

Good evening. For those of you that do not know me, my name is Scott Seus. I am a third generation farmer from Tulelake, and the chairman of the Klamath Water Users Assn power committee. Six years ago I became involved with the power committee, which at the time was a small group that met religiously to educate ourselves about the power rates that we receive from PacifiCorp. Lynn Long, until recently, was the chairman of this committee. During that period, Lynn gave willingly of his time and often of his own pocket to be everywhere and anywhere power was being discussed so that he might better understand the nature of the beast that we refer to as "the Utility". Lynn remains a source of information for the power committee to tap. The community is indebted to him for his personal sacrifices and commitment over the last six years.

There are others among us that dedicate a lot of time to the power committee as well. John Nichols, manager for the Langell Valley Irrigation District and Dave Solemn, Manager for KID both serve as co-vice chairs. They regularly attend meetings at all hours of the day and night to muddle through this difficult situation. I would like to say thank you to their families and the Board of Directors of their irrigation districts for allowing them to serve the greater community by working on this important issue. Mike Byrne, Bob Gasser, Rob Crawford, John Crawford, Rick Woodley, David King, Steve Kandra, Ed Bair, JW Cope, Gary Wright, and countless others support this effort by sharing their own expertise and time. To them and their families we also owe a debt of gratitude.

This is, by all means, a vast effort. We have five attorneys working for us, each in their respective venue. Peter Hanschen of Morrison Forrister serves as council for California PUC issues. Joining us tonight are Larry Cable and Richard Lorenz from Cable Houston. They, along with Ed Finklea, also of Cable Houston provide us council in the Oregon PUC. Jeff Eisenberg supports our efforts in Washington DC as a strategist, the devils advocate, and political advisor. Paul Simmons acts as our referee and traffic director, sharing information among the attorneys and helping the power committee recognize and deal with issues that develop as we proceed in this overwhelming challenge. Together, this combined team serves as our council to the Federal Energy Reliscencing Commission, or FERC. FERC is the federal government agency that granted the license to Copco, PacifiCorp’s predecessor, with the condition of affordable power for the Bureau of Reclamation and the project irrigators.

Sound expensive? Make no mistake about it, it is. Much of the KWUA budget and time is being spent on the power issue. I assure you, it is a worthy cause. Consider this, were we to go to tariff rates that PacifiCorp proposes tomorrow, your power rates may go up as much as 2500% what you currently pay. Not only would this affect your bottom line, but also the integrity of an ecosystem that relies on irrigated agriculture to support the 470 species that call the Klamath Basin home. Through EQUIP, we the Klamath Basin farmers and the Federal government will have invested 75 million dollars in irrigation efficiency by the end of 2007 in an effort to do our part to make the best use of the water that we use irrigate these lands. That efficiency is tied to a meter base at the end of a pump switch. Best use will be overcome by economics, and economics say flood irrigation will be more cost effective. Drainage pumps would become to cost prohibitive to operate, and thus the Refuge Complex will go dry. Water quality both here in the Basin and downriver will decline. Temperature of water will soar in stagnate pools of water that abound due to a lack of drainage pumping. Incidentally, the ratepayers throughout the PacifiCorp territory will ultimately suffer as well. Efficient use of water here in the Klamath Basin and drainage pumping out of the project results in more water in the Klamath River to be run through the generators that provide clean, renewable, low cost power to the rest of the PacifiCorp ratepayers. To replace that power with natural gas fired generation at today’s prices…. Lets just say there is no carpooling in fossil fuel fired generation.

Power generation is synonymous with the Bureau of Reclamation. Across the West, the Bureau has built projects for flood control and a stable water supply that harness the energy behind the walls of dams to provide electricity for an increasingly energy dependent nation. The Klamath Project is one such example, with a minor distinction. Rather than build the generation on the river which the Bureau was entitled to, the Bureau entered an agreement with COPCO allowing them to develop the power generation in lieu of the Bureau. In exchange, affordable, low cost power was provided to the Klamath Project. That low cost power enables the Klamath Project to maintain a 93% efficient irrigation project that continues to provide affordable, safe domestic food supply for a hungry world, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and provide water downstream for generation of additional power that benefits all PacifiCorp ratepayers.

Tonight we celebrate 100 years of partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation. Together we have reached a milestone. Together, we face new challenges that were not conceivable 100 years ago, and some that are. Fifty years ago this coming April, our partnership renewed an agreement with Copco, that strengthened our community, and our ecosystem. Due to that agreement and partnership, agriculture remains a healthy, viable industry today. Our refuges receive water and remain a success story that illustrates how wildlife and farming are a symbiotic relationship, and water is used ever so efficiently project wide. If 100 years is a milestone, then power can be considered a cornerstone to our success.

As we face the next April, the question on everyone’s mind is what the power rate will be. The only assurance that I can give you is that our committee, our consultants, and our attorneys are committed to a justified, affordable, low cost power rate. We will remain engaged in every forum possible, and explore every alternative. We will continue to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation so that we can again celebrate, 100 years from now, another milestone.




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