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Pacific Power CEO visits Yreka
Yreka, Calif. — A Pacific Power senior management team, including President and CEO Pat Reiten, visited Siskiyou County last Wednesday and Thursday on one of its quarterly service-area visits.
According to Reiten, 90 percent of the company’s service area is outside the Portland area, where its headquarters are located. Reiten said the company understands the importance of on-the-ground knowledge and staying in touch with the needs of the communities they serve.
During their time in Siskiyou County, the team members visited College of the Siskiyous, Timber Products and the Siskiyou Daily News office. The team also held a community reception at the Mt. Shasta Resort and an economic development luncheon at the Holiday Inn Express in Yreka.
Concerns about the economy were a major theme for discussions during the visit.
Reiten told the Daily News that, “as a provider of electricity, Pacific Power has a front-row seat to the current state of the economy because economic activity is directly reflected in power consumption levels.”
Power consumption has been declining for the past four years, according to Reiten.
At Thursday’s luncheon, County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong stated that she believes Pacific Power is a “limiting factor” in local efforts to develop a biomass program.
Reiten acknowledged that the company is currently looking at ways to liberalize the process for adding expansions like biomass facilities to their power network. He added that the decline in demand necessitates finding additional markets for power in communities south of Siskiyou County if additional supplies are to be developed.
While in town, Pacific Power announced that the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) will be awarded a $20,000 economic development grant.
“The Pacific Power grant will support a SCEDC project that will identify opportunities for industrial growth and economic development in Siskiyou County,” according to Bob Gravely, communications and public relations coordinator for PacifiCorp. “This project will consist of three phases: a target industry study, site-specific analyses and the creation of a comprehensive marketing plan.”
Klamath dam removal was also a major topic of discussion during the meeting with the Daily News.
Daily News staff conveyed some of the common concerns and questions that have come up in public forums and the Pacific Power team expressed some of its perspectives on the issues.
Reiten stated that the issue of Klamath dam removal is not political for PacifiCorp, but one of business and economics.
Reiten said that retro-fitting the existing dams to comply with regulations and qualify for re-licensing would cost rate payers about $450 million. However, the company has negotiated a $200 million cap on rate payer contributions to the removal process, he said on Thursday.
“It comes down to an economic calculation, trying to cut the best deal for customers,” Reiten said. “Keeping the facilities the same is not an option.”
On the question of replacement power, the team stated that the Klamath dams constitute a maximum of 2 percent of Pacific Power’s energy portfolio. Therefore, the team said the company does not feel it will be difficult to find economical replacement power.
“We would prefer to use renewable sources for replacement but we’ll go with the best economic option,” said Reiten.
The company is currently in the process of working with the California and Oregon public utility commissions to find the best options for replacement power if the dams are removed.
Page Updated: Thursday October 27, 2011 01:39 AM Pacific
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