irrigation power cost reduction: KWUA hearing details water
A final draft
is still several months away, but on Tuesday Klamath Project
irrigators had the opportunity to hear firsthand from
agencies involved in drafting potential solutions to reduce
growing power costs in the Klamath Basin.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act, passed last year thanks
to a bipartisan collaborative effort by California and
Oregon members of Congress, a collective of representatives
from multiple partners involved in an ongoing study about
rising power costs presented information and answered
questions during a presentation at Klamath Community
College. The goal was to present information related to the
ongoing Affordable Power Measures Study, which builds on the
Comprehensive Agricultural Power Plan (CAPP).
A need for cost
reduction has emerged over the past decade following the
expiration of a 50-year contract in 2006 that had guaranteed
favorable power rates via Pacific Power for on-project
irrigators. That long-established power purchase agreement
prevented the Klamath Project from accessing Project Use
Power – power generated at federally owned facilities such
as Bonneville Dam – which has been a contributing factor to
rising costs following the agreement’s expiration. Following
several failed efforts to extend that deal, some irrigators
have seen power costs increase as much as 2,000%, according
to the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA).
present represented groups such as the Bureau of Reclamation
(BOR), U.S. Department of the Interior, the Farmers
Conservation Alliance, Sustainable Northwest, Pacific Power,
Energy Trust of Oregon, and Oregon Tech. The event was
presented by KWUA.
Per last year’s
legislation, the study seeks to identify a Power Cost
Benchmark (PCB), a “net delivered cost to power after
calculating expense,” including credits and other factors
related to placing water on crops within the Klamath
Project. This includes recommended actions, alternative
energy options, and public input to reach a point where net
delivered power use is equal to or less than the PCB for
both near and long-term expectations.
that power rates are a challenge here, but I really think we
are going to do something about it,” said Paul Simmons,
executive director of KWUA. “We find ourselves on an island
not having the same opportunities as other areas since the
detailed what has led to this point, from original planning
of the Klamath Project over a century ago to dam
construction to the contracts and licenses under review.
Mike Neumann of the BOR followed, highlighting why
competitive pricing is difficult to calculate due to a wide
variety of factors, further complicated by what Neumann
described as, “a patchwork of overlays of providers in the
power cost landscape” that can result in varying expense
among neighbors regionally.
Neumann, tapping into federal reserve power is theoretically
feasible, but not practical in execution with minimal
savings and no provisions for how to handle the costs in
part due to use fees on Pacific Power-owned transmission
the PCB, five similar reclamation projects in the Pacific
Northwest were targeted for cost comparisons. These were the
Boise Project, Columbia Basin Project, Minidoka Project,
Owyhee Project, and Yakima Project. Based on information
compiled from these projects, 10 alternatives were
recognized from the CAPP report as potential tools to reduce
“Our goal is to
find achievable measures to reduce your power bill,” added
potential cost-reduction measures under consideration in the
yet-to-be-completed draft was Lloyd Reed of Lloyd Reed
Consulting, part of the Kleinschmidt Group engineering team
tasked by BOR for study completion. Reed highlighted
possible efforts including utilization of Pacific Power’s
net metering programs for shared power generating
facilities, Pacific Power’s Time-of-Use retail rate programs
by limiting power use during designated peak hours of energy
consumption, equipment and efficiency upgrades, and
investment in renewable energy generation facilities outside
of the Upper Klamath Basin.
alternatives include utilizing existing and future Pacific
Power load control programs, development of small
hydroelectric generation plants, purchasing federal power,
open-access power purchases, and proactive participation in
Pacific Power’s retail rates cost-of-service review.
several solar photovoltaic options were discussed, from
small structures built on individual farms to shared
community facilities and large utility-scale solar plants.
There was even discussion about floating solar plants as a
potential solution, something which Oregon Tech students
recently developed for Upper Klamath Lake.
Lloyd, solar photovoltaic user costs for implementation
range from $3,000 per kilowatt-hour to as low as $800 per
kilowatt-hour, dependent on scale, number of participants,
and other varying factors.
present was also granted the opportunity to speak,
highlighting various cost-cutting programs and incentives to
irrigators related to equipment modernization and water use
reduction such as low-flow nozzle and sprinkler systems.
Oregon Tech noted the interest of students in seeking
partnerships with regional water users for potential
projects, from floating solar plants to automated pumping
Northwest, an active partner in forging long-term strategies
for energy consumption in the Klamath Basin, announced an
upcoming energy symposium to be held in Klamath Falls Oct.
17-18 at Oregon Tech to tour facilities and discuss
contract extension was deserved, but it didn’t happen, so we
got help from Congress to get this launched,” added Simmons.
“BOR has done a great job managing this project, the team is
solid. We are off to a good start, and we are going to keep
report is expected to be submitted by late November.
Energy symposium set for October by
Sustainable Northwest, one of several organizations presenting
at Tuesday’s hearing, will host a two-day energy symposium in
Klamath Falls Oct. 17-18. The Making Energy Work for Rural
Oregon 2019 Fall Symposium will include a Modoc Point Irrigation
District field tour and social reception on Thursday, Oct. 17.
On Friday, Oct. 18 at Oregon Tech, a series of presentations
will cover relevant topics such as disaster mitigation and
energy storage, the future of farming through mitigation,
climate resiliency fostered through the agricultural community,
and solar power development. For registration and more
information about the fall symposium visit
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