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Office of the Speaker
Oregon House of Representatives
Speaker Dave Hunt

Room 269, State Capitol, Salem, Oregon

June 12, 2009
Geoff Sugerman

Klamath Basin Bill Passes House

SALEM – The Oregon House approved legislation Friday to protect Oregon utility ratepayers should the effort to restore the Klamath River Basin proceed with removal of four dams along the river starting in 2020. SB 76 is the product of a negotiated agreement between Oregon, Washington, California, the federal government and PacifiCorp. It is supported by over two dozen groups including agriculture interests, conservation groups, utility companies, Native American tribes and other affected participants who developed the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

The bill passed 34-24 and now moves to Governor Ted Kulongoski for his signature.

“This is the first in a series of steps involving many different participants that might eventually result in the removal of the four dams along the Klamath River. This was once one of the most prolific salmon runs on the West Coast. Restoring these salmon runs would have a profound impact on the fishing economy of the Oregon Coast,” said Cannon. “Passing this bill does not mean the dams will come down. But it does mean that Oregon has lived up to its agreement with other participants to continue moving forward with our discussions about the future of the Klamath Basin.”

The legislation passed today is a major step forward in a process that could lead to removal of the Klamath River dams no sooner than 2020. The entire agreement is still subject to California authorizing $250 million in bonds to remove the dams and a final decision by the federal government. The intent of SB 76 is to protect Oregon's PacifiCorp customers by setting caps on costs and liabilities. SB 76 also reserves the right of the Oregon Public Utility Commission to make a final determination on whether dam removal is in the best interest of Oregon ratepayers.

After decades of disagreement about dams along the Klamath, stakeholders were faced with the decision to either relicense the dams through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or explore decommissioning and removal of the dams.

Under SB 76, PacifiCorp customers will pay an additional $1.50 per month for ten years to build a $180 million fund. If the dams are removed, consumer costs cannot exceed $180 million. If PacifiCorp proceeds with relicensing instead of removal, the $180 million would be applied to this process.  The relicensing process is expected to cost at least $350 million.

“As has been the case all session, we continue to closely consider the opinions and the needs of the wide array of participants in this debate – from the tribes and the federal government to the agricultural and fishing interests in the basin,” said Speaker Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County). “This bill protects Oregon ratepayers as the decision about the dams is made.”

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              Page Updated: Sunday June 14, 2009 03:43 AM  Pacific

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