The rate paid by farmers for electricity
increased many times over after a 50-year guarantee of
lower rates ended in 2006. The guarantee was part of the
agreement in effect after the Klamath River dams were
High costs and doubtful water supply
encouraged creative thinking. This year, the Klamath
Irrigation District completed a small hydroelectric
plant near its headquarters where the A Canal sends
water into the Upper C canal.
Some irrigators are using solar power
to run irrigation pumps.
Final test drilling is going on at
the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and also
on private land nearby, where the temperature of
geothermal water is too hot for irrigation, but too
low for what is usually needed to produce energy.
Itís being done with a rarely used French technology
and the prospects look good.
There are also other projects in the
local area that build on vision and a willingness to
accept some risk.
The biggest is the $2 billion Swan
Lake pumped storage project about 12 miles northeast
of Klamath Falls, which is in the planning stages.
That closed system would tie together two reservoirs
of water at different elevations. Water would be
pumped to the upper one from the lower one when
demand and costs are low and return through turbines
to produce power for the market when demand and
rates are higher.
If the privately owned facility
becomes reality, it would mean a big increase in the
countyís tax base and the revenue available for such
public needs as schools, law enforcement and roads.
It would also produce about 60 jobs and bring more
economic diversification to the county.
Geothermal heat, which has been used
in the Klamath Basin for many decades, is at the
core of inventive efforts. The natural hot water has
been used in some fashion for as long as people have
been in the Basin. Local tribes used the steam in
various ways, as did the settlers who followed.
The areaís natural heat has been used
for such things as growing fish and heating
greenhouses and, in a less-commercial sense, keeping
downtown sidewalks clear of snow. Itís also been
used for decades to heat residential and public
Local farmers are also seeking and
finding more niche markets, such as organically
grown products. Some irrigators are using solar
panels to power irrigation pumps.
The message in this isnít just that a
lot of people are looking for ways to cope with
increased power costs and uncertain water supplies,
but that some are succeeding. Thatís not just good
news for them, but for the rest of us, too.
Hydro Project is completed
The hydro facility replaced the old
Enterprise hydro plant which burned down some 50
years ago. The facility is located near the KID
headquarters where the A canal supplies water to the
Upper C canal.
The C-Drop project includes an intake
structure, forebay, powerhouse, and a 150-foot
transmission line. While the initial anticipated
flow of the run-of-canal project is 550 cubic feet
per second, a 700-cfs vertical Kaplan turbine is to
be installed to accommodate increased flow in the
future. This increases from a 900 kW project to a
1.1 MW project which translates to a potential 3,600
The amount of power generated from
this power plant depends on the demand for water
from the Upper C canal. Based on the historic flow
data, the average power generation will be
approximately 2900 MWh per year.