Klamath River — There are a number of questions, assertions and
assumptions concerning the proposed removal of four dams along the
Klamath River under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. This
research series will look at these individual issues and how they fit
into the larger picture.
Producing approximately 700,000 to 800,000 megawatt hours each year, the
Klamath Hydroelectric Project provides enough power to serve 70,000
homes, according to dam owner PacifiCorp spokesman Art Sasse.
The KHSA lays out the potential removal of four of the dams in the
hydroelectric project, the power from which comprises approximately 2
percent of PacifiCorp’s total generation capacity across its six-state
range, according to an economic modeling report prepared for the
California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2005 by the consulting firm M.
The report from M. Cubed also shows that in 2004, PacifiCorp’s power
generation was 68.4 percent coal, 4.1 percent natural gas, 5.4 percent
hydroelectric and 0.2 percent wind.
If the dams are removed in 2020, which is the projected earliest date
for removal, Sasse stated that PacifiCorp will look to replace the lost
power from those facilities. In order to do so, he continued, PacifiCorp
“must plan to meet the needs of customers across a six-state territory
with a diverse portfolio of generation resources, including renewable
and thermal resources – all with the top goal of providing the most
affordable, reliable and safe power possible.”
In the CEC’s 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report, the goal for power
production from renewable energy sources is set at 33 percent by 2020, a
number that excludes large hydropower facilities.
In addition to renewable standards, Sasse stated that the company’s
energy portfolio is and will be shaped by customer demand, which,
according to the M. Cubed report, is expected to grow over the next 30
If the dams are not removed, they will be subject to a number of
mitigations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to
Sasse, who explained that the proposed measures would reduce the amount
of power the dams can generate.
While the decisions for replacing the power have not yet been announced,
the M. Cubed report states the total costs for replacement power over a
30-year period are estimated in 2005 dollars to range from $74 million
to $167 million, numbers that assume that replacement power will be at
the decreased level expected under the relicensing scenario.
If the dams are removed, PacifiCorp must turn to the Public Utilities
Commissions in the states it serves in order to establish rates its
customers will pay to cover the costs of replacing the lost power
The KHSA specifically states that the money already sought from
PacifiCorp customers for dam removal costs, $200 million combined from
Oregon and California ratepayers over a 10-year period, cannot be used
to cover the cost of replacement power, but that all parties to the
agreement are to support any rate requests made by the company to recoup