supervisors continue dam removal funding fight
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to
continue its opposition to a proposal related to funding for
the removal of four dams on the Klamath River.
removal of the dams is the core component of the Klamath
Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, a multi-party agreement
that sets forth a path toward the removal of J.C. Boyle,
Iron Gate, Copco 1, and Copco 2 dams.
part of the agreement, PacifiCorp — which owns the dams —
requested the California Public Utilities Commission approve
a surcharge on its customers’ bills to provide funding in
the event the dams are removed.
Specifically, PacifiCorp’s customers are expected to pay a
total of $13.76 million over a nine-year period that started
in 2011, which is the year the PUC approved PacifiCorp’s
request. The company’s Oregon ratepayers are responsible for
the remainder of the $200 million contribution to the dam
removal funds to which PacifiCorp committed itself.
August of last year, the company submitted a petition to
modify its previous petition, asking the PUC to make certain
changes related to the language of the original request and
to change how the funds will be disbursed. Two
administrative law judges — Sophia Park and Sasha Goldberg —
were tasked with reviewing the new petition and submitting a
proposed decision to be approved by the PUC.
set of changes reflects amendments to the KHSA itself. The
agreement originally called for congressional approvals as
part of the dam removal process, but after such legislation
failed to pass, the KHSA was amended to instead rely on the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s dam license transfer
and decommissioning process.
petition references congressional approvals, so PacifiCorp
requested that the language be altered to reflect the new
process. The judges’ proposed decision calls for approval of
second part of the request was to allow the PUC’s executive
director to enter into a contract with the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation — the nonprofit entity expected to take
ownership of the dams during their removal — in order to
distribute funds collected through the ratepayer surcharge.
judges deny that request in their order, instead suggesting
that the PUC itself be in charge of approving any such
contract in order to provide more oversight.
proposed order references opposition arguments submitted by
Siskiyou County and the Siskiyou County Water Users
Association. The county has argued that the removal of the
dams – which has not yet been approved by FERC – is still
speculative, and that there is uncertainty about whether or
not the funds raised will be sufficient for the whole
project. SCWUA argued that the modifications would not
provide the same level of oversight provided in the original
proposed decision notes that the judges do not agree with
Siskiyou County’s assertion, stating, “none of the
modifications we adopt today eliminate the need for
PacifiCorp or KRRC as the dam-removal entity to obtain the
necessary permits and approvals,” and goes on to note that
KRRC must provide proof of permits and approvals in order to
receive funds from the surcharge trust funds.
judges’ proposed decision does not take effect unless
approved by the PUC, and the county is planning to continue
submitting arguments in opposition, according to interim
County Counsel Natalie Reed.
District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff, calling the decision
“a form of tyranny,” expressed frustration with the
administrative hearing process – which he said took over a
year and did not allow for public comment.
a brief discussion from the board, a unanimous vote was
taken to have the board chair and vice chair meet with Reed
to craft another opposition letter to be sent to the PUC.
The The deadline to submit the letter was Monday, according
to agenda documents.
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