It’s official: Removing Klamath dams is cheapest, most effective option

FERC issues final EIS on Klamath hydro project

November 16th, 2007

<P>Steve Rothert, American Rivers, 530-277-0448 (cell)</P>
<P>Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x23 </P>

Nevada City, CA – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on PacifiCorp’s Klamath hydropower project, concluding:

  • Dam removal would improve water quality, reduce fish disease and increase fall chinook spawning by more than 20,000 fish in the project area alone.
  • Removing all four dams and replacing their generation would result in the lowest cost electricity to PacifiCorp’s customers. 

Steve Rothert, director of the California office of American Rivers, made the following statement:

“This is the final word on the Klamath dams, and the message is clear. These dams are economic losers. Removing them makes sense for PacifiCorp customers and it makes sense for the river and the basin’s fishing communities.”

“The four dams on the Klamath are stuck in the last century. For less than it would cost to bring the dams up to modern standards, we can remove the dams and replace their power with clean wind and solar energy.”

“On the Klamath, we’re on the cusp of seeing one of the most significant river restoration projects in our country. We must seize this opportunity to restore not only the river and the salmon runs, but also the way of life and the economies of the tribes and local communities.”

American Rivers is advocating for the restoration of a healthier Klamath River, which includes the removal of the four dams [JC Boyle, Copco 2, Copco 1 and Iron Gate] to restore access for salmon and steelhead to over 350 miles of historic habitat.

PacifiCorp’s dams on the Klamath River, built between 1908 and 1962, cut off hundreds of miles of once-productive salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the Upper Klamath, which was once the third most productive salmon river on the West Coast.

The dams also impair water quality, encourage the growth of toxic algae and fish parasites and degrade river habitat.  Klamath salmon populations dropped to such low levels in 2006 that much of the commercial salmon fishery was closed along more than 700 miles of California and Oregon coastline.  Recent closures may have cost the California economy more than $100 million. 
FERC estimates that removing Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs would save PacifiCorp customers almost $15 million per year. 

A study by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285 million over 30 years. 

Analysis by the CEC found that “replacing electricity from the Klamath Project can be done without increasing greenhouse gas emissions”.

With the $320 million that PacifiCorp would spend installing fish ladders on the Klamath dams, the company could replace the entire Klamath project generation with:  a 170MW wind plant; a 100MW solar plant; or replacing old transformers in their distribution system.

The CEC report also stated, “we question the wisdom of investing hundreds of millions in ratepayer money to sustain a nominal and environmentally damaging power plant, especially when lower cost, environmentally superior project alternatives are available.”



About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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