The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved Pacific Power’s request to transfer ownership of four hydroelectric facilities on the Klamath River, known as the Lower Klamath Project, to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC).
The decision is part of the implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement between 48 parties including PacifiCorp, the states of Oregon and California, several Native American tribes, and many other groups and organizations. The settlement agreement provides a framework to decommission the four hydroelectric developments and sets requirements related to their operation and removal. When completed, the dam removal project will address declines in fish populations, improve river health, and renew Tribal communities and cultures, CPUC said.
The four specific facilities are: J.C. Boyle Dam, a 98-MW earthfill dam built in 1958; Copco 1 Dam, a 20-MW concrete dam built in 1918; Copco 2 Dam, a 27-MW concrete dam built in 1925; and, Iron Gate Dam, a 18-MW earthfill dam built in 1962.
“Our decision today is another step forward to advance this historic dam removal project. Through the collaboration of the states of California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk tribes, the federal government, private companies, and conservation groups, this region may soon enjoy cultural, ecosystem, and economic restoration,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer.
In 2016, KRRC was established as the dam removal entity. PacifiCorp, the parent company of Pacific Power, negotiated a property transfer agreement between itself and KRRC, to provide for the transfer of the Lower Klamath Project to KRRC upon the completion of conditions necessary to prepare for the transfer. Those conditions include, but are not limited to, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of the license transfer, which it provided on June 17, 2021. KRRC plans to commence dam removal in 2023.
CPUC previously determined that removal of the Lower Klamath Project was in the best interest of PacifiCorp customers.
“Our decision today marks a critical milestone in this historic project, which represents the largest dam removal in the history of the U.S. Removal of the four hydroelectric dams is the first crucial step to restore the health of the Klamath River and the communities that depend upon it,” said Commissioner Darcie L. Houck. “I would like to thank the many stakeholders that have persistently pushed this process forward over the past decade. This accomplishment is a direct result of decades of Tribal and community action. I want to particularly acknowledge and thank the Yurok Tribe and the Karuk Tribe for their ongoing active engagement in this process, and former Commissioner Liane Randolph for her leadership on this matter.”
CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.