There is a process underway to remove four hydroelectric
facilities from the Klamath River.
The first, starting upriver, is John C. Boyle. Originally named
the Big Bend Development, the project was completed on October
1, 1958 with a rated capacity of 88 megawatts. The cost: $70
The second, Copco 1, was placed into operation in the spring of
1918 with a rated capacity of 20 megawatts. By the end of 1922
the second Copco generator No. 1A was placed into operation at
20 megawatts. The cost: $3 million. Copco No. 2 was placed into
operation at a rated capacity of 30 megawatts in July 1925.
Lastly, the Iron Gate Development was dedicated on February 3,
1962 with a rated output of 18 megawatts.
Iron Gate serves mainly to regulate flows from the upriver
hydroelectric developments which were adversely affecting the
This is what these hydroelectric developments would cost today:
John C Boyle: $70 million in 1958, multiplied by an inflation
rate 805.13%, is $633.6 million in today’s dollars. Copco 1
would cost $52 million, Copco 2 would cost $33.7 million and
Iron Gate would cost $124 million.
In total the dams would cost $843 million dollars to build
The average annual power production for these developments is
around 75 megawatts hourly. At their production level, the
annual value of their power is production level, at 10 cents per
kilowatt the annual value of the power is $65.7 million.
If hydroelectric developments are removed, that value will
disappear and it won’t be back.
A megawatt will power approximately 1,000 homes. 75 megawatts
can provide electricity for approximately 225,000 people.
What else? No one knows for sure what the effects of removal
will be. The silt behind the dams could poison the river for
years or, in the event of a major flood, create a dead zone in
the ocean at the mouth of the Klamath River. Who will pay for
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation is a shell corporation
formed solely for the purpose of dam removal. Its only assets
are funds from PacificCorp customers and taxpayers in general.
When troubles with the removal begin, KRRC will declare
bankruptcy. This is why Berkshire Hathaway Energy — which owns
PacificCorp which in turn is owned by a Mr. Warren Buffet — is
currently petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
for transfer of its ownership to the KRRC.
The states of California and Oregon support this move which will
place the burden of cleaning up the removal mess squarely on the
Why does the astute Mr. Buffet not want the hydro project? The
answer is the dams produce power too cheaply compared to wind
and solar. Generally, the more expensive something is, the
greater the profit margin and that’s true here. That’s the
reason Berkshire-Hathaway is closing it’s coal fired power
plants and promoting solar and wind power.
California has a 4,400 megawatt power production deficit. The
Klamath River Developments have a peak output of around 180
megawatts, that’s about 4% of California’s problem.
Texas can’t keep the lights on when the windmills freeze. Oregon
and Washington are talking about eliminating natural gas for
space heating in favor of electricity.
Silly people say hydroelectric isn’t renewable and we’ll find
the power somewhere. Isn’t better to develop the new
infrastructure prior to decommissioning that which you have?
If you are worried about the salmon, visit the Iron Gate
Hatchery when they are spawning and witness the power of nature.
That will soothe the fevered brow and you will know the salmon
would transit the developments with the addition of the
In his book, “50 Years On The Klamath,” John C. Boyle wrote:
“Those interested in retaining and developing Klamath’s greatest
natural resource, ‘water,’ should not be complacent. Who knows
when somebody with plenty of money and plenty of votes may
appropriate part of it and put it to beneficial use outside the
basin of it’s origin. It is still the envy of much of the arid
This has happened: At any given time California diverts 50% to
80% of the Trinity River, which joins the Klamath at Weitchpec,
to the Sacramento River for use beneficial to that state.
Arguably this is responsible for most of the environmental woes
in the Lower Klamath River.
Removal of these developments will serve as a precedent for
removal of the dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers, as well as
all the irrigation diversions in the basin.
Then we will find out what life was like around here in the
Mr. Ehlers a medal for covering
a complex subject so succinctly.
You really painted a great
picture of how the dams provide
benefit and what will be lost if
they are removed. It will be a
monument to the insanity of
indulging environmental pipe
dreams and a runaway federal
bureacracy that simply declares
scientific outcomes. After all,
we don't want to use facts and
common sense to avoid a
monumental disaster when we can
simply claim a future that is
not possible. More water and
more fish will never be at the
end of the dam removal rainbow
no matter how many cookies the
KRRC dummies serve at their dog
and pony shows. They'll
disappear faster than any shell
corporation in the history of
scams when the whole thing goes
sideways. I also doubt the
taxpayers of CA and OR will
shoulder the new superfund site
alone in the long run. Thanks
again, Charles, for being a
As a Copco
Lake resident this is the very
first article that has shown any
credible science, research and
is totally refreshing to read.
Oh my gosh, THANK YOU!!!! These
reservoirs are our life line.
They provide our fire
suppression and support a
thriving ecology that is so
beneficial to so many species,
including the endangered sucker
fish which reside in this lake
as well as thousands of other
species. Today there are
warnings about using too much
electricity because of the heat
and engineered drought. This is
not climate change. This is the
geoengineering. Look it up. The
same power companies are all
invested in weather
modification. How else do you
get one half of the country
completely droughted out and the
other half is being flooded. By
steering the atmospheric rivers
of the sky and blaming it on
climate change. Thank you for
this delightful article. I will
be sharing it!
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