PacifiCorp files alternative fishways for 161-MW Klamath

Utility PacifiCorp has filed alternative fishway prescriptions with the U.S. departments of Commerce and Interior that propose less expensive actions than the agencies’ prescriptions for fish passage construction at four dams on the Klamath River.

In its April 28 filing, PacifiCorp called for a trap-and-transport facility and downstream collectors to test the feasibility of reintroducing salmon to the upper Klamath Basin. While its proposal differs from prescriptions offered by federal fishery agencies, it said it seeks to find a viable way to reintroduce fish into suitable habitats using a science-based approach.

Preliminary resource agency fishway prescriptions would require PacifiCorp to build fish passage at four dams as a condition for relicensing the 161.338-MW Klamath project in Oregon and California. The Commerce Department’s NOAA Fisheries and Interior called for fish passage at 18-MW Iron Gate, 20-MW Copco I, 27-MW Copco II, and 90.338-MW J.C. Boyle dams. PacifiCorp estimated the agencies’ prescriptions could cost as much as $200 million.

“The company believes it must suggest prudent alternatives for fish passage while balancing its need for power generation,” PacifiCorp Energy President Bill Fehrman said. “We hope to continue working with all licensing parties to solve these challenging issues.”

Project owner uses hydro licensing reform statute

PacifiCorp filed alternatives under hydro licensing provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It also requested agency trial-type hearings to resolve factual disputes, as provided in the Energy Policy Act. A hearing could be set in late summer or early fall.

“PacifiCorp is concerned about native fish populations in the Klamath River Basin,” Fehrman said. “However, the company also is a regulated utility whose business is to safely and reliably generate and deliver electric power to its customers at a reasonable cost. We are trying to strike a balance between those objectives while at the same time addressing the irrigation needs of agricultural interests.”

PacifiCorp will work through details of the proposal in the coming weeks with stakeholder groups in a settlement process. That process is under way in parallel with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s relicensing process.

April 28 was the deadline for PacifiCorp and others to file alternative fishway prescriptions under the Energy Policy Act. The act requires resource agencies to adopt alternative fishway prescriptions proposed by any party if they adequately protect the resource, and the resource agency finds the alternative would cost less to implement than the agency’s prescription, or would result in improved power operations. Once a fishway prescription is adopted by an agency, FERC must add it to the hydro license without modification.

Klamath includes seven hydropower developments and non-powered Keno Dam. In a 7,000-page relicense application, PacifiCorp proposed decommissioning 3.2-MW East Side and 600-kW West Side developments, and excluding them and Keno from the relicensed project. The utility said installing fish screens at those plants would make them uneconomical. The seventh hydropower development is 2.2-MW Fall Creek.

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