PacifiCorp files compromise fishway alternative for 161-MW Klamath

In a compromise overture to federal fish agencies, PacifiCorp has submitted a second set of alternative fishway prescriptions proposing less expensive actions than the agencies’ proposed mandatory prescriptions for fish passage construction at four dams on the Klamath River.

PacifiCorp’s new alternative prescriptions, filed Dec. 1, are a contingency proposal, reflecting the utility’s desire to reach a compromise for relicensing the 161.338-MW Klamath project (No. 2082) in Oregon and California. The new alternative focuses on fish passage and calls for PacifiCorp to install limited fishways at four project dams.

The Klamath project consists of eight developments, 18-MW Iron Gate, 20-MW Copco 1, 27-MW Copco 2, 90.338-MW J.C. Boyle, 3.2-MW East Side, 600-kW West Side, 2.2-MW Fall Creek, and non-powered Keno Dam. PacifiCorp’s original relicense application proposes decommissioning East Side and West Side, and excluding them and Keno Dam from the relicensed project.

Agency fishway prescriptions seen costing $200 million

Under terms of the Federal Power Act, fish agencies of the Commerce and Interior departments filed preliminary license conditions that would require PacifiCorp to build fish passage at Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2, and Boyle, which PacifiCorp estimated could cost as much as $200 million.

In April, PacifiCorp filed alternative fishway prescriptions with Commerce and Interior that propose less expensive actions than the agencies’ prescriptions. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the agencies to adopt alternative prescriptions that are less expensive and equally protective of the resource.

At that time, PacifiCorp called for a trap-and-transport facility and downstream collectors to test the feasibility of reintroducing salmon to the upper Klamath Basin at a cost of up to $60 million. It called the plan a less expensive, science-based alternative to the proposed agency fishway prescriptions.

New PacifiCorp alternative offers limited fish passage

PacifiCorp Energy President Bill Fehrman said the company’s new contingency alternative prescriptions focus on fish passage and ensuring fish can safely and successfully be reintroduced throughout the project area.

�The company’s proposal today underscores both its willingness to compromise and its desire to reach a common understanding with the federal agencies on these important issues to ensure successful reintroduction of fish in the project area,� Fehrman said.

The new alternative proposal calls for:
o Construction of a new fish ladder and fish screens for upstream and downstream passage at Boyle, consistent with agency prescriptions;
o Downstream fishways, by installation of screens, at Iron Gate, Copco 1, and Copco 2;
o Collection and transport of upstream migrating adult fish at Iron Gate to release sites upstream of Iron Gate, Copco, and Boyle reservoirs, and at one location above the project area; and
o Within four years of a new license, construction of an upstream fishway at Copco 2 for collecting and transporting adult fish at or upstream of Copco 1 reservoir.

It was indicated that PacifiCorp still prefers its original April 25 proposed alternative prescriptions. Utility spokesman Dave Kvamme said PacifiCorp is not abandoning the original proposal, which remains pending before the federal agencies. (HNN 10/2/06) The new contingency proposal was described as significantly more expensive than PacifiCorp’s first alternative.

Kvamme said it is not known how the second alternative prescription would affect consideration of the earlier filing. Commerce and Interior are expected to issue a decision in January.

Fehrman: Proposal won’t satisfy dam removal crowd

�We understand that PacifiCorp’s revised alternative proposal will not satisfy all parties, particularly those who are interested in having PacifiCorp remove all the project dams,� Fehrman said. �However, this alternative addresses our desire to be environmental stewards and allows the company to continue to generate clean, reliable power for its customers.�

American Rivers has issued a statement claiming a study prepared for the California Energy Commission found removing the Klamath River dams, and replacing their power, would save PacifiCorp ratepayers up to $285 million over 30 years. It said that study also found decommissioning would be $101 million less costly than relicensing the project.

In October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued a draft environmental impact statement that rejected the resource agencies’ proposals to mandate fishway construction at the four dams. Despite that opinion, FERC itself has no authority to reject the conditions if Commerce and Interior should approve them in final form.

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