According to Newport Salmon fisherman Mike Becker, "Pacific Power wants their customers to pay more to finance the destruction of Oregon's fishing jobs, clean water, and native cultures. We call on Pacific Power customers to demand dam removal on the Klamath to save money, jobs, and salmon."
The coalition sited economic reports by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Energy Commission (CEC) conclude that removing the outdated dams is cheaper than making the upgrades necessary to get a new operating license. In addition, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has recommended dam removal as the best and surest means to restore salmon runs, and stop the record blooms of toxic algae that are caused buy Pacific Power's dams.
According to the CEC report, removing the dams and replacing the power they produce from carbon neutral sources would save ratepayers between $32 million and $286 million. The groups will make those reports available at the press conference.
The groups are asking ratepayers to urge the Oregon Public Utility Commission to deny any request from Pacific Power to pass relicensing costs (including new fish ladders, temperature controls and expensive diversion construction) on to them. "Ratepayers should not be forced to finance a more expensive and environmentally destructive option. We want ratepayers to join us in asking the PUC to deny any attempt by Pacific Power to pass the cost of these less effective, but more expensive mitigation measures on to them, since dam removal is a cheaper and more responsible alternative," said Steve Weiss, policy analyst for the NW Energy Coalition.
Over the past two years, Klamath Basin communities have set aside differences in order to negotiate an agreement to restore the river and provide economic sustainability to all the rural communities of the Basin. The pending agreement would balance the needs of fish-dependant as well as farm communities. However, all agree that dam removal is a core principle of the negotiated agreement. "We can't continue to let Pacific Power extract the wealth of the Klamath Basin, leaving our communities behind to suffer the consequences," said Ron Reed, Cultural Biologist for the Karuk Tribe.
Portland residences have long been involved in the efforts to take out the Klamath Dams and restore the Klamath River. They have supports four rallies at Pacific Power headquarter. The coalition said they hope these efforts will grow now that Pacific Power's Portland ratepayers know they will be paying for the destruction of Oregon's fishing jobs and Tribal cultures. They said that Pacific Power customers can expect a mailer on this issue in the next week.
"This is an amazing opportunity to save ratepayers money, restore salmon and provide economic stability to Klamath Basin and coastal communities. Since Pacific Power refuses to act responsibly, we're calling on their customers to join our struggle. With the help of Pacific Power's customers, we can ensure that the utility will not get away with fleecing its own customers while destroying one of America's greatest natural resources," concluded Kelly Catlett of Friends of the River.
To get involved contact Regina Chichizola, Klamath Riverkeeper at firstname.lastname@example.org
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