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Donít use power rates for dam removal costs

February 10, 2009 Herald and News Letter to the Editor by Dolores Cooley, Klamath Falls

   State lawmakers are struggling to reduce budgets because of the current financial situation. Oregonians, if fortunate enough to still be employed, are also struggling to make their paychecks stretch to meet increasing costs of living. Many others have lost jobs, resulting in the loss of homes, possessions and health care, if provided.

     Now, Gov. Kulongoski is submitting Senate bill 76 that would direct the stateís Public Utility Commission to raise PacifiCorpís rates to pay for removal of four hydroelectric dams, removal of which no positive benefits have been proven. 

    What it will do is allow PacifiCorp to place the cost of the damsí removal on its ratepayers, adding at least $35 to $65 a month for the average customer. Then they could collect even more for unforeseen costs of removing sediment behind the dams.

    Since only one of the four dams is located in Oregon, Iíd  like to know why Oregonians are expected to pay a larger portion of the cost than California, where three of the dams are located. There are no cost estimates available for other sections of this bill that allow PacificCorp to charge customers for finding new power sources and other liabilities that might arise. Why should other power sources have to be found when four of them already exist?

     Money collected by rates to pay for dam removal is supposed to be returned to ratepayers if dam removal does not take place, so although citizens of Oregon can ill afford it, theyíre expected to come up with money our lawmakers arenít even positive will be needed.

    Write to Gov.Kulongoski, State Capitol Bldg, 900 Court St. NE, Salem, Or. 9730l, call state Sen. Doug Whitsett, (503) 986-1728, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, (503)-326-7525 and Jeff Merkeley, (202) 224-8845 and U.S. Rep Greg Walden, (800) 533-3303 to object this bill.    
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