An economically attractive environmental solution in peril

The agreement to take down PacifiCorp’s dams on the Klamath River is in peril. In 2006 we showed in a study funded by the California Energy Commission that decommissioning the dams would likely cost PacifiCorps ratepayers about the same as relicensing. That mitigated the economic argument and opened up the negotiations among the power company, farmers, tribes, environmentalists and government agencies to came to an agreement in 2010 to start decommissioning by 2020.

The agreement required Congress to act by the end of 2015 and that deadline is looming. Unfortunately, there are still opponents who mistakenly believe that the project’s hydropower is cheaper than the alternatives. In fact, the economics are even more favorable today whether PacifiCorp uses natural gas or renewables to replace the lost power. And this analysis ignores the benefits to the Klamath fisheries from decommissioning. It’s too bad that bad simplistic economics can still get traction in the legislative process.

12 thoughts on “An economically attractive environmental solution in peril

  1. mcubedecon Post author

    Unrealistic expectations by the Hoopa tribe in this situation. FERC was ready to approve the fish ladders in 2006 and the SWRCB could not have put together the requisite case in 12 months to show that Section 401 water quality permitting requirements could only be met by decommissioning. The negotiated outcome was the environmentally preferred solution that recognized that PacifiCorp still had some economic interest in relicensing. Instead, this may have opened the flood gates for many in progress relicensing applications to circumvent current state regulations.



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