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Klamath Water Users Association

Power and Water Update Meeting

March 3, 2005

Klamath County Fairgrounds
by Barbara Hall, KBB



Steve Kandra, President of KWUA welcomed approximately 150 Project

irrigators to a Power Update meeting today at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.





Lyn Long, Power Contract Committee Chairman told the audience that Klamath Water Users (KWUA) have been on negotiating a new power contract with PacificCorp for the past 7 months.  Other members of the Power Committee are volunteers attending non-secret meetings that anyone may attend.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday March 7th,

7 PM at the KWUA office.


The KWUA Power committee is representing all irrigators in the Upper Klamath Basin , in or out of the Project area.  Off Project irrigators have also formed their own negotiation committee.


Klamath Project irrigators pay 6 mil or 6/10 of a cent per KWH.  This is not unique, some farmers and ranchers in other parts of the west pay even less or nothing for their electricity to pump water; depending on their contracts with which public held, private, or government agency that produces the power.  A 50 hp pump is normally a 30 KWH pump and average Project pumpers use 43,000 KWH annually if they use a 50 hp pump.


How much power is used in the Klamath Project annually?  Average years, the Project uses 15 mega-watts (1,000 KW) per day or in other words, the Project uses 10% of the hydropower capacity that is generated from dams on the Klamath River .  All Klamath hydro plants, if running to full capacity 4/7 generate 150 megawatts.


KWUA’s have used a lot of their budget to hire consultants, lawyers, hydrologists, etc.


One important factor in the contract negotiations is “Credit for Value.”  We need to receive credit for the value of the water we supply down river for hydropower generation year round.



   John Nichols, Langell Valley Irrigation District explained the 1956 Power Contract between

   PacificCorp and the Klamath Project.  (See KWUA’s handout here)



   KWUA seeks to continue the 50-year power arrangement between the Bureau of 

   Reclamation and PacifiCorp using the 1956 Power Contract, which was shaped by Section 

   4e of the Power Act.


   Since the new 2006 Power Contact is tied to the FERC relicensing of the dams on the 

   Klamath River , and it is not unheard of for the relicensing process to extend beyond the

   date of the original license, FERC will give PacificCorp an annual extension. These

   negotiations will take time and there might be a 1-year or more extension to the relicensing

   and our 1956 Power Contract.


   Mr. Nichols went on to explain how provisions of the 1955 Klamath River Compact 

   (authorized  by Congress and the states of Oregon and California ) still affect the standings

   of    the Klamath  Project in negotiations.  

   The Compact contains the following provision:

            “It shall be the objective of each state, in the formulation and the execution and the granting of authority for the formulation and execution of plans for the distribution and use of the waters of the Klamath River Basin, to provide for the most efficient use of available power head and its economic integration with the distribution of water for other beneficial uses in order to secure the most economical distribution and use of water and lowest power rates which may be reasonable for irrigation and drainage pumping, including pumping from wells.” Article IV (Emphasis added).


Scott Seus, KWUA Power Committee member then took the audience through a mock PacificCorp bill for the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) using tariff rates instead of contract rates.  This exercise gave the farmers and ranchers a chance to see what additional power expenses would be added to their yearly farm operations.  

Instead of the 6-mil rate now enjoyed by Klamath Project irrigators, the current tariff rate is 6.8 cents per KWH plus demand charges.  One example a 500 hp pump on one of the Stateline Road wells is currently using 405 KW (estimated) and TID is paying – under contact - $3,486.  Using tariff rates, load size charge, demand charge, energy charge, care surcharge, and CPUC surcharge, the yearly cost to run just this one pump would be $35,807 – over a 1000% increase.  Another example was given using the D Plant pumps that move water from the Tulelake Refuge through Sheepy Ridge to the Lower Klamath Lake Refuge.  Using the above tariff plus charges, the yearly D Plant electric bill would top $330,000.   

But these are examples using large electric pumps.  Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project use various sized pumps to lift water from laterals and ditches for pivot systems, wheel lines, and flood irrigation using much smaller electric pumps.  So, what would the yearly farm expense be for a 50 hp pump?  The costs would go from $140/year to $3,049/year.  A 100 hp pump:  from $1,839/year to $26,322/year.  A 225 hp pump:  from $2,506/year to $37,736.  

On farm pumps will only be part of the added expense to Project irrigators if new contract negotiations fail.  Farmers will see their Operations and Maintenance (O&M) fees go up as well.  Each irrigation district n the Project has electrical costs that must be passed on to the irrigators.  For example in Klamath Irrigation District (KID), there are the costs to run the Miller Hill Pumping Station and the Stukel Pumps.  When these additional power expenses are added in, Klamath Project irrigators could face a 2500% increase in farm expense.   

Lyn Long again took the podium to better explain the FERC settlement/relicensing process.  KWUA has one seat at the table during the ‘secret’ meetings and they will begin in earnest next week in Ashland , Oregon .  Others at the table are the Indian Tribes, fishermen representatives, government agencies (including the Bureau of Reclamation, Commerce - NOAA), and two members of environmental groups.  Seeking a seat at the table is a representative for Siskiyou County , California .  

Mr. Long also explained that KWUA has hired a consultant to look into other forms of power generation to be owned and operated by the Klamath Project.  Hydro generation on the C canal drop, Gerber Dam, and Keno Dam would not supply enough power for Klamath Project needs plus cost is prohibitive.  For each megawatt produced hydroelectrically costs 1.5 million to build.  It would cost 6 to 8 million dollars to build a hydo plant at the Keno Dam but it would only produce 4 megawatts.  

Wind power was also looked at.  In general, the Klamath Basin does not have enough sustained winds for a wind farm.  

Geo-thermal, though readily available here in the Klamath Basin ; is not ‘super heated’ enough to run turbines.  

Solar power is the one bright spot.  PacificCorp is starting a 15-year long study using 3 or 4 on farm solar projects to power electric pumps.  

KWUA is also researching the organization of a PUD – a Public Utility District that could be an alternative to fall back on.  The Klamath Project has the legal authority to form a PUD that would have a great deal of flexibility.  But in order for this to happen, the Project would have to convince everybody in the basin – air base, city, hospital, etc – to also sign on.  

Scott Seus again took the podium to stress that the Klamath Project irrigators need to get smarter about water and energy conservation.  He reminded the audience about Energy Trust of Oregon and their nozzle exchange program and free pump efficiency testing that will be available starting April 1, 2005 .  

Steve Kandra then asked Dave Sabo, Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Office to speak about the upcoming water year.  

Mr. Sabo reminded the audience that the Bureau has been a partner with farmers for 100 years here in the Klamath Basin .  Originally, the Bureau was planning to develop hydropower on the Klamath River but CopCo (forbearer of PacificCorp) agreed to build the dams and pass the benefits on to the Project in lower power rates.  “Maybe the Bureau agreeing to this years ago was a mistake,” said Sabo.  

The Klamath Project “power rate is embedded in the Link River dam operation plan contract.”  “Continued cost base rate for power – we need to be pushing for this” during new contract talks.  

“The possible extension of the FERC license agreement must contain the power contract,” though PacificCorp is saying no” at this time.  The FERC relicensing could extend 10 years or more (Sabo has seen the same during other FERC relicensing) because much more info, data, NEPA, etc must be developed.  

Mr. Sabo then went on to talk about the 2005 water supply.  “It’s dry out there and current conditions are close to those we saw in 2001.”  The March 1 forecast expects only 250,000 cfs of inflow into Upper Klamath Lake , which will have us “facing some tough times ahead.”  

He went on to say, “We’ll have as much delivery as we can this year.”  “The East side (Gerber, Lost River ) is dry and it looks like we’ll have only a half a season.”  

Sabo was asked about the Bureau’s Draft Undepleted Flow Study and what the flows from Keno would be this summer without the Projects stored water.  Sabo stated, “Without the Project in place and with these snow pack conditions, we would expect to see flows in the Klamath River during July and August sitting at only 15 cubic feet per second.  But as like the last 70 years of the Project, we are putting more water in the river during the summer months.”

Other handouts from the meeting:

Why The Klamath Project Receives A Reasonable Power Rate

Klamath Water Users Association Electrical Power Brief

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