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News Release
Oregon PUC Approves Ownership Transfer of Four Klamath River Dams - 07/27/21

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved PacifiCorp’s application to transfer ownership of four hydroelectric dams located on the Klamath River to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). The ownership transfer, which was approved with conditions to keep the PUC informed through the transfer process, includes approximately 8,000 acres of property associated with the dams. 

This decision was required as part of a larger negotiated agreement to decommission and remove the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate dams, known as the Lower Klamath Project, as part of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA). The Lower Klamath Project dams were built solely for power generation and are not used for irrigation, flood control, or the safe passage of fish. The Keno and Link River dams, located to the north and not targeted for demolition as part of this agreement, have fish passages and are part of massive irrigation system that straddles the Oregon-California border and provides water to more than 300 square miles of farmland.

The KHSA finalized a settlement under the framework of the 2008 Agreement in Principle, supported by Oregon Senate Bill 76 (2009) and was signed in 2010 by 48 parties, including PacifiCorp, the states of Oregon and California, the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service, several Native American tribes, among others, and was part of a broader initiative to address resource issues in the Klamath Basin. The KHSA was amended in April 2016 and requires PacifiCorp and the KRRC to seek approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to transfer ownership to KRRC and decommission the four dams. On November 17, 2020, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was announced by PacifiCorp, the States of California and Oregon, the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, and the KRRC that describes how the parties will proceed with implementation of the Amended KHSA and, ultimately, dam removal.

“Our decision to approve the transfer is one step on a long and winding path that will continue through the next phases,” said PUC Chair Megan Decker. “It keeps in motion efforts to restore the Klamath Basin and improve the health of a river vital to indigenous communities and others that depend on it.”

Earlier this month, the California, Idaho and Wyoming utility commissions also approved the transfer of ownership of the Lower Klamath Project from PacifiCorp to KRCC. 

“Given the high expected cost to relicense and continue operating these dams, the likelihood that the dams would generate less energy after relicensing, and the declining cost of alternative power sources, dam removal remains the least costly and risky option for PacifiCorp customers,” added Chair Decker.

PacifiCorp submitted the original application for transfer of ownership of these dams to the PUC in 2010, but the Commission at that time concluded that the decision to transfer the property was premature and should be deferred until closer to the date of the actual transfer.

The PUC Staff report voted on by the Commission can be found at: https://oregonpuc.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=597&meta_id=30037. The official order memorializing this decision will be filed later this week and posted online at: https://apps.puc.state.or.us/edockets/DocketNoLayout.asp?DocketID=16113

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The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates, which is accomplished through thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process. 

View more news releases from Oregon Public Utility Commission.