Plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River have taken a step forward with the news that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a request from Pacific Power to transfer ownership of four hydroelectric dams, 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 comprising the Lower Klamath Project 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.
“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, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation was established as the Dam Removal Entity. PacifiCorp, the parent company of Pacific Power, negotiated a Property Transfer Agreement between itself and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, to provide for the transfer of the Lower Klamath Project to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation 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.
The CPUC previously determined that the removal of the Lower Klamath Project was in the best interest of PacifiCorp customers and today reaffirmed its belief that it continues to be in the best interest of those customers.
If everything goes ahead, KRRC plans to commence dam removal in 2023 and said it is doing everything within its power to secure the regulatory approvals needed to meet that goal. The plan involves the removal of the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate dams.