Project farmers' power bills may go up,
PacifiCorp's regional manager in
Yreka, talks about how power rates
could be going up almost tenfold for
Klamath Project water users at a
Klamath County Cattleman's
Association luncheon at the Oregon
State Extension Service office
By DYLAN DARLING Herald and News
official told Klamath Reclamation Project
water users Thursday to brace for a boost in
power rates come next irrigation season.
"We don't want to minimize it. We know it is
going to be a big change," said Sally
LaBriere, PacifiCorp's regional manager
based in Yreka.
A 1956 contract
between the company and Project water users
that keeps power rates below a penny per
kilowatt hour is set to expire next year.
Water user groups have been working to keep
the rates down, but LaBriere said it looks
like they will be going up.
Come April 2006, the rates could vault up to
about 5 1/2 cents per kilowatt hour, the
amount paid by other irrigators around the
state of Oregon, she said. There would also
be an additional annual charge based on each
"This is what
everybody else in the state of Oregon pays,"
LaBriere said. "We are not asking them to
pay more than the other irrigators in the
LaBriere told of the possible changes at a
Klamath County Cattlemen's Association
luncheon at the Oregon State Extension
Service office. Many of the about 80 people
will be affected by changes in power rates.
"I can't afford
it," said Frank Wallace, who has 400 acres
near Merrill. "That's more than I make in a
year. It just won't work."
If the prices go up as much as LaBriere said
they could, Wallace said he won't be able to
irrigate and he can't afford other options.
Some of those
options include getting more efficient
irrigation systems and switching to diesel
or solar-powered pumps.
Rodney Todd, grain and hay agent for the
Extension Service, said water users should
be preparing for the possible change.
"This is going
to get your attention," Todd told the group
The power rate change would impact overall
production costs for farmers and ranchers,
he said, and they will need to figure out
how to keep their businesses going.
"This is going
to have a ripple effect through this
community that will be unpleasant," Todd
But Klamath Water Users Association
officials and its lawyers are still trying
to stop the change. A water users contingent
just got back from Washington, D.C., where
they visited with members of the Oregon and
California congressional delegations. The
power rate was one of the major issues
discussed, said Steve Kandra, water users
The water users
are also still in talks with PacifiCorp
officials, trying to avoid a big jump in
power rates. He said nothing has been
settled in the negotiations.
"I think things are premature to start
talking about what's going to happen,"
the talks could change the outcome of the
power rate change, but the company wanted to
make customers aware of the possible leap in
rates next spring so it didn't take them by
The current rate paid by Project power users
is 6 mils, or .6 cents, she said. A mil is a
thousandth of a dollar. As is, the company
is charging less for power than it costs to
produce it. She said it's hard to find any
justification for people to be paying less
than it costs the company to produce power.
company wants customers to be aware of the
possible change, she said things could
change in the next year and the power rate
change could be different, depending on
talks and legislation.
"The ink isn't dry on anything," LaBriere