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Not all farmers favor Klamath deal

Tom Mallams, Beatty, OR, Capital Press letter 2/12/09

A comment on Mitch Lies' article on the Senate Bill 76 hearing: I wish you would qualify the statement that farmers have signed on to the plan. A large number have not. I appreciate your mentioning the 1,850 individuals who signed petitions against the whole plan.

Best-case scenario for dam removal is approximately set at $180 million. That is apparently where PacifiCorp gets the $1.50 per month increase in household power cost. FERC's own worst-case scenario for dam removal cost is set at $4.5 billion. The true number is somewhere in between these numbers. Simply averaging these two numbers puts it at well over $2 billion.

Fish ladders and other improvements are starting to look a lot better. What does that do to the average household rate increase? The difference is that FERC's number takes into consideration the sediment issue. There are already studies published that prove toxic sediment is behind at least three of the four dams. This cannot continue to be ignored. The agreement in principle refused to address this important issue. There is a cap stated in the legislation, but the AIP states that if dam removal costs exceed projected costs, parties have to go back to the table and decide who is going to pay the cost override, and this could even happen after dam removal has already begun!

Frustration was apparent with one of the senators in the SB76 hearing, when he asked Michael Carrier from the governors office four times to explain the conflict between the two documents in regard to the supposed "cap." The question kept getting unanswered. This information is found in the AIP Sec. VI Page 9, Facility Removal Cost. The 2 percent maximum rate increase is very misleading. The SB76 page 4 states "the total amount collected in a calendar year under both surcharges may not exceed more than 2 percent of PacifiCorp's annual revenue requirement ...." This does not necessarily mean a maximum of 2 percent increase in your monthly bill, especially when you have to again consider green power replacement costs and addressing toxic sediment issues.

If dam removal does not occur or if there is money left over after dam removal you have said repeatedly that "the money would be refunded to the rate payers." That is only one of the options available. One of the other options is "or otherwise use these amounts for the benefit of customers." That could very easily be interpreted to be used for the re-licensing process or any other number of legal or other costs incurred by PacifiCorp during this whole process.

The project irrigators also say they are giving up water in this whole process. The case can be made showing they would actually have more water available considering the expansion of the refuge water right, eliminating return flows into Klamath River and receiving an additional 10,000 acre-feet of water in a drought year through the KBRA.

Thanks for continually presenting the many different sides to this highly complex issue.

Tom Mallams, Beatty, Ore.

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