6 Mar 2009, 1:04am
Salmon and other fish
by admin

Throwing Klamath Ratepayers Under the Bus

Excerpts from an excellent Editorial was published yesterday in the Wallowa County Chieftain [here]

Editorial: Removing dams costly, unwarranted

By Andy Martin, Wallowa County Chieftain, March 5, 2023

Hundred of miles from Wallowa County, across the border into Northern California, Pacific Power operates three dams on the Klamath River. Those dams, along with another just north of the border near Klamath Falls, produce enough electricity to power 70,000 homes.

Under pressure from environmental groups, tribes and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Power has reached an agreement to tear the dams out, thanks in part to the states of Oregon and California paying a big chunk of the cost, and releasing the power company from much of the liability associated with the dams.

Pacific Power fought to continue operating the dams, but after the Fish and Wildlife Service indicated it would require fish ladders that could top $1 billion as part if its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicense, saw removing the dams would be a cheaper alternative.

Now Pacific Power ratepayers, including those in Wallowa County, are being thrown under the bus, being forced the pay for the removal of dams that not only produce clean, affordable electricity, but also provide water storage in drought-stricken Southern Oregon and Northern California. Oregon’s Senate voted late last month to raise power bills to pay for the dam removal. Oregon ratepayers will be responsible for $180 million, while California power customers will have to pay $20 million. The bill passed mostly on party line votes, with Republicans opposed, except for one, Sen. Jason Atkinson of Central Point. Sen. Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton, and Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, have been vocal in their opposition to dam removal. So has Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner.

Opponents of the dams blame them for poor salmon returns in the river. In reality, salmon populations throughout the West Coast have been struggling. Even rivers without dams experienced horrible fall Chinoook returns last year. The Klamath has actually been a bright spot. This year, 85,000 salmon are expected to return to the river, thanks in part to the hatchery at the base of Iron Gate Dam that the power company provides 80 percent of the funding. You can bet Pacific Power won’t be paying for the annual release of 900,000 salmon smolts and 5.1 million fingerlings once its dams are torn down. These fish fuel ocean commercial and sport salmon fisheries off the Oregon and California coasts. … [more]

Note: for more info regarding the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement see [here]

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