The film nights were preceded by mailings to all of PacifiCorp's customers on the Oregon Coast. The mailer stated, "There's Something Fishy About Your Power Bill" and featured a tear-off postcard telling the Oregon Public Utilities Commission to reject increased power rates for keeping the Klamath dams. PacifiCorp has ratepayers in Astoria, Warrenton, Seaside, Coos Bay, Charleston, Coquille, North Bend, Seaside, Lincoln City, Cannon Beach, Gleneden Beach, and Arch Cape, Oregon. The mailer was developed by a coalition of groups including Friends of the River, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and others.
The film nights, held in Astoria, Newport, Coos Bay, and Brookings, showed how PacifiCorp's dams are hurting salmon on the Klamath River, as well as how the Klamath's declining Chinook salmon runs impact commercial fishing communities from southern California to northern Oregon. Filmgoers also learned about how PacifiCorp is planning to pay for upgrading and re-licensing its aging dams by increasing power rates to its customers.
Both the California Energy Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have shown that overhauling the dams to meet current federal fish passage standards may cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than simply removing the Klamath dams and buying replacement power. PacifiCorp can use "cost recovery" to pass these increased costs on to its customers, a practice which must first be approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
"We targeted ratepayers from fishing communities because they are doubly impacted by PacifiCorp's dams, first by declining salmon runs, and second by increased power rates." said Malena Marvin, Outreach and Science Director for Klamath Riverkeeper. "Feedback at our film nights indicates a lot of folks have sent comments to Oregon's PUC, and we hope they get the message that Oregonians don't want to pay for the destruction caused by PacifiCorp's dams."
Staring down the barrel at another fishing season curtailed by low salmon numbers, Oregon's fishermen are pushing for action on the West Coast's ailing rivers. "I want those dams gone, I depend on those fish. I ain't afraid to say it." said Aaron Longton, a commercial fisherman from Port Orford, Oregon.
"I support dam removal if it will benefit the fish, and I believe it will by restoring a lot of habitat upstream and helping to solve the disease problems downstream," said Bob Kemp, a full-time commercial fishermen based in Newport.
This spring, Klamath Riverkeeper, Tribal members, and others will also be protesting the Klamath dams at Warren Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, NE and at Pacific Power headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Oregonians can learn more about how PacifiCorp ratepayers will be affected by the Klamath dams at www.salmonforsavings.com. More on the campaign to un-dam the Klamath River can be found at www.klamathriver.org.