Monday, February 20, 2012

Truth and Illusion: Klamath Deal promoters misrepresent Klamath dam options

Promoters of the Klamath dam and water deals – the KHSA and the KBRA – have a new talking point. In recent guest editorials and news stories influenced by promoter organizations they are telling us that there are only two choices for PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project. In the words of California Trout’s Curtis Knight:
           “There are two legal options for the dams: 1) fix them up and relicense them to modern standards at a cost exceeding $450 million, which is passed on to ratepayers; or 2) decommission and remove the dams under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) at a cost capped at $200 million to PacifiCorp and its ratepayers. Dam removal is cheaper. Much cheaper.”

It is true that the dams must either be relicensed to meet current requirements or they must be removed. It is not true, however, that there are only two options - relicensing under modern requirements or the KHSA/KBRA. A third option is to return to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process where decommissioning and removal of the privately owned Klamath Hydroelectric Project will be accomplished via the process designed by Congress for that purpose.

Removing the dams via the normal FERC process would save taxpayers roughly three quarters of a billion dollars - the cost to taxpayers of the KBRA. The best and the least expensive course for ratepayers and taxpayers is to decide the fate of the dams within the normal FERC process – not via special interest KHSA- KBRA legislation introduced in Congress by Senator Merkley and Congressman Thompson.

PacifiCorp's Condit Dam in Washington State is being removed using the FERC process