Settlement advances relicensing of 173-MW Clackamas River

Portland General Electric signed a settlement agreement March 2 with stakeholders, achieving a key step in the utility’s effort to relicense the 173-MW Clackamas River hydroelectric project (No. 2195) in Oregon.

Federal and state agencies, environmental organizations, Native American tribes, local governments, water districts, and recreational businesses were among the 33 parties who signed the agreement. The accord creates a plan for improved fish and wildlife protection and recreational opportunities, while enabling PGE to operate the project for another 45 years.

The collaborative effort that resulted in the agreement spanned seven years. PGE plans to submit the agreement April 1 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will make the final determination on relicensing. The project’s existing license expires Aug. 31.

Agreement carries $150 million price tag

The cost of the agreement to the utility, over the 45-year term of a new license, would total about $150 million, most of which would be spent in the first six years, PGE spokesman Mark Fryburg said. That figure does not include the utility’s cost of operating the project, he added.

PGE said the agreement provides beneficial measures for fish passage and habitat, including new downstream fish bypasses at North Fork and River Mill dams, a new adult fish trap and sort facility at North Fork, gravel placement in two river sections, and improved river flows. PGE also agreed to provide expanded recreational facilities, cultural and educational resources, and improvements to wetland and wildlife habitat in the area.

The agreement also provides a collaborative process to resolve water temperature issues downstream of the project, to be addressed by PGE, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and other parties. In addition to provisions of the agreement, PGE said it has remodeled spillways and is building a new fish ladder at River Mill Dam.

In 2003, FERC combined the North Fork (No. 2195) and Oak Grove (No. 135) projects under a single project license (No. 2195) and renamed the project Clackamas. The project includes the 58-MW North Fork, 44-MW Oak Grove, 46-MW Faraday, and 25-MW River Mill developments, with eight dams, seven reservoirs, four powerhouses, and miles of pipelines, canals, tunnels, and fish ladders. The system stretches from Timothy Lake in the Cascade Mountains to River Mill Dam at Estacada, Ore.

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