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Letter from John and Loy Beardsmore to FERC and PacifiCorp regarding PacifiCorp and Klamath Dam Removal
Response from PacifiCorp
August 20, 2020
Mr. Scott Bolton
Senior VP, External Affairs & Customer Solutions
825 N.E Multnomah, Suite 1500
Portland, OR 97232
Mr. Mark A. Sturtevant
Managing Director, Hydro Resources
825 N.E. Multnomah, Suite 1500
Portland, OR 97232
Ms. Kimberly D. Bose Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20426
RE: Klamath Project (Project No. P-2082), and the Lower Klamath Project (Project No. P-14803)
Dear Secretary Bose and Members of the Commission,
We would like to thank the Commission for their wisdom that there are significant levels of uncertainty with the Klamath Project concerning the technical capacity, but more importantly, the limited finances of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. We’ve long held the belief that costs, not only could, but most certainly would, rise above the amounts estimated and provisioned for dam removal. We’ve also repeatedly pointed out to the Commission that the KRRC’s contractors cannot perform the most basic tasks associated with preparation for dam removal, such as groundwater well-monitoring, work schedule notifications, answering landowners concerns and questions, etc. We’ve also challenged many of their plans for revegetation, fire management, and logistics, just to name very few of our apprehensions with their lack of technical experience and abilities. We thank the Commission for recognizing our concerns and we agree that requiring PacifiCorp remain as a co-licensee is in the public’s best interest.
In just one month’s time, since the Commission’s ruling, we have seen a flurry of attempts by dam removal proponents such as, Governor Newsom (the same governor that is lamenting power blackouts and consequences of wildfire and challenges of fire suppression), and Congressman Huffman, in a grand-standing effort, attempted to use his sub-committee chair position to call a meeting with supposed experts to pressure PacifiCorp to becoming a co-licensee. These ‘experts’ are Tribal Leaders and other interested parties only concerned with removal of the dams. They all are attempting to pressure Warren Buffet to immediately accept becoming a co-licensee, as any time delays will threaten the finances of the project. This fortifies our arguments that the financial resources of the KRRC were always precarious, and as time goes on, even more so. Most recently Tribal Representatives have become so desperate that they are threatening Buffett with litigation, yet we all recognize that if dam removal were to move forward, if it was an environmental disaster as we predict and the fisheries were to be decimated, the Tribes would also litigate.
As much as we are heartened by the Commission’s decision, IF PacifiCorp agrees to become a co-licensee, our concerns for dam decommissioning are not allayed. We have examined the Condit Dam removal and lessons learned. Unfortunately, the same sediment modeling calculations used for the Condit, have been used to model sediments behind the Klamath Project. While estimated at 20-30 million cubic yards of sediment behind the project, as in the Condit, this will be off by a factor of two, resulting in actual sediment amounts being closer to 40-60 million cubic yards of sediment. No amount of dam removal experience can envision that amount of sediment will magically travel over 230 miles down the river and flow out into the ocean without decimating spawning beds, creating flooding issues, and sedimentation issues at the mouth of the Klamath River requiring dredging operations for the harbor at Crescent City and the river delta. These amount of sediment deposits will most surely negatively affect the fisheries. Inadequate studies of the possible toxicity of the sediments is concerning as well. This sediment deposition alone will require river restoration at a cost of billions of dollars, if at all possible.
If sediment issues were not enough for concern, local Copco residents are concerned about losing their wells, slope stability, increased fire danger with no plans for true mitigation, as there is no way to mitigate the loss of the reservoirs. Communities downstream of the dams are justifiably concerned with flooding issues. The City of Yreka would need to have their water line replaced prior to dam decommissioning. Siskiyou County has many concerns, the least of which is loss of tax revenue if dam removal were to move forward that would lead to bankruptcy. These are just a few of the liability concerns with dam removal.
Yes, we are encouraged that PacifiCorp would be required to sign on as a co-licensee. At the very least, it gives all the parties above a reliable licensee to assume liability of any negative consequences of dam decommissioning. It has always been understood that after dam removal that the KRRC would disappear. At least we know that PacifiCorp is here to stay and would ultimately bear the entirety of any liability issues left behind for unproven environmental benefits.
Loy and John Beardsmore
Response from PacifiCorp
Dear Ms. and Mr. Beardsmore,
Thank you for including PacifiCorp in your correspondence regarding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s July 16, 2020, ruling on the proposed license transfer for the Klamath dams as part of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.
Your informed expression of your concerns is a valuable part of the public and regulatory oversight process that must accompany and shape the outcome of something as big and impactful as the proposed removal of the Klamath dams.
I want to assure you the company takes seriously the concerns you have raised about possible project impacts to your property and Klamath River communities.
PacifiCorp has always viewed the KHSA as establishing a process that could lead to removal of the dams if certain conditions are met. Part of the process the amended KHSA established is a requirement that the main federal energy regulator examine and approve both the license transfer and, ultimately, dam decommissioning plans to ensure that the proposal is in the public interest and will satisfy safety, environmental, economic, and other standards and requirements.
PacifiCorp was disappointed in the FERC ruling, which undercuts a key component of the settlement the company negotiated to protect our electricity customers across six states from uncertain costs and risks associated with dam removal or relicensing. At the same time, FERC’s order suggests that the concerns you’ve raised will be taken seriously and not brushed under the rug. Our experience as an energy company that owns and operates hydro projects around the West and dozens of federally-licensed power plants further informs our belief that rigorous oversight should, and will, be part of any plan involving the dams.
PacifiCorp is continuing to talk to engage our settlement partners, regulators and, importantly, our customers to evaluate a path forward that protects our customers across the states we serve.
I want to reiterate that I believe many of the concerns you raise need to be fully examined as part of any decommissioning, regardless of who is ultimately responsible for the work. I also want to acknowledge again your continued involvement to raise the concerns of your community in a thoughtful and effective way.
Scott D. Bolton
Senior Vice President
External Affairs and Customer Solutions
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