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August 1, 2005
Water for Life celebrates success on Klamath power rate bill
SALEM, Or. – Water for Life celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 81 with a bill signing ceremony at the Governor’s office today. Joining Oregon Governor Kulongoski were Klamath legislators Sen. Doug Whitsett and Rep. Bill Garrard; Water for Life executive director Emilie Wolff, and Klamath Off-Project Water Users president Edward Bartell, and secretary, Carole Canevari.

The Governor’s signature officially enacts into Oregon law a measure that ensures Klamath Basin irrigators will face no more than a 50 percent increase per year in agricultural power rates.

Although still a hefty increase, the bill mitigates what would have been an immediate rate increase in excess of 1,200 percent.

Water for Life agreed to spearhead efforts on the bill after being approached by the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, who initially conceived the legislation for Klamath Basin irrigators facing the massive rate hike. Klamath Off-Project Water User members, by using groundwater that eventually serves to recharge surface water sources, provide much of the water Pacific Power Uses to generate power. The Off-Project Users contract bears no termination date, however Pacific Power has made filings in the Oregon Public Utility Commission to terminate their rates.

“We vigorously oppose this devastating rate increase," said Edward Bartell, President of Klamath Off-Project Water Users. “If rates are raised it will mean less water and higher costs for Pacific Power and ratepayers.”

“No ratepayer in Oregon should face rate increases of this magnitude,” Bartell continued, and added, “Klamath Off-Project Water Users plan on fully litigating our rates guaranteed in the contract.”

The Klamath Off-Project Water Users and the Klamath Reclamation Project are also currently working with Pacific Power in negotiations and are hopeful about keeping power rates affordable. The bill serves as a “safety net” in case a negotiated agreement is not reached.

The bill’s passage is the result of hundreds of hours of time and effort put in by Water for Life and Klamath Off-Project Water Users lobbyists, staff and members, Klamath legislators and the Governor’s office.

“This legislation was definitely a challenge for us,” said Water for Life executive director Emilie Wolff. “We moved from our usual area of expertise in water statutes to becoming an overnight expert on public utility statutes. We owe a big debt of thanks to everyone who worked with us to get this done.”

Wolff particularly expresses appreciation to Governor Kulongoski and his staff for their commitment to addressing Klamath irrigators’ power rate concerns and making this bill a priority among the many issues raised during the 2005 legislative session.

Wolff adds, “We’re very happy to have been successful in passing this legislation for the agricultural community in the Klamath Basin who are hit by one water issue after another and remain some of Water for Life’s most faithful supporters.”




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

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