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Interior sides with irrigators

Tam Moore
Oregon Staff Writer

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission closed public comment and arguments this week on a U.S. Department of Interior petition to make bargain-basement electricity rates a part of any renewal of hydroelectric licenses for less than full term.

FERC is to rule by April 2006 on PacifiCorp’s request for a new 50-year license for what is now a 151-megawatt-a-year complex of generators. All but one power plant use tailwater from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Project to turn the turbines. If the complex deal cannot be made in time, FERC would move to granting annual licenses until the long-term conditions are settled.

Interior asked FERC to declare that reasonable electrical power rates be part of conditions for interim licenses. PacifiCorp, which wants to end the bargain-basement rates for project irrigators and farms adjacent to project lands, asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission to set rates significantly higher. The PUC put off a decision until next spring.

PacifiCorp is in the final stages of closed-door negotiations with stakeholders on license conditions.

Dave Kvamme, a PacifiCorp information officer, said complex FERC relicensing often isn’t complete on the renewal date. Annual licenses then fill the gap until FERC gives final project approval. The company takes issue with Interior’s position that continuing those low agricultural power rates ought to be part of license extensions.

“We would contend there is no connection with the license and those rates,” Kvamme said by phone from Portland. “The (power) contract is separate.”




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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