Who will pay for Klamath dam deal?

I am a lifelong resident of Southern Oregon and, like you, have a vested interest in the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of the region. Professionally, my responsibilities extend throughout all the counties in southwestern Oregon and I have participated on numerous local, regional and statewide boards.

Why? Because I like it here and I'm determined to do my share to help develop and retain the economic resources of this region. It is critical to our economic vitality and livability.

I have read the articles and editorials this past week regarding what is being called the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. The agreement represents the work of 26 parties that have come together to craft an agreement, with the centerpiece being dam removal. Not just one dam, four dams.

Is anyone else concerned that Pacific Power and their customer's interests were not participants in the crafting of the settlement? As I stated earlier, I am concerned about the environment, cultural, and economic issues in the region. I understand that the settlement agreement attempts to address a lot of these issues (and there are plenty to go around).

But who is going to pay for the $1 billion in special projects? And who is going to pay for removing the dams and the ongoing liabilities associated with dam removal that could be even more billions?

Where are we going to find the low-cost energy to replace the energy generated on the Klamath River, at what cost, and who is going to pay for that? These are questions as a ratepayer and a concerned citizen I feel compelled to ask, and we deserve answers.

These same questions have been asked by editorial boards of the Mail Tribune, the Grants Pass Daily Courier and The Oregonian. I believe they got it right by pointing out that customers have a lot at stake.

We all agree renewable energy is a critical component to address climate change. Unfortunately, in the short term, renewable energy cannot replace the growing demand for electric energy, nor will it replace the low-cost generation resource such as the 169 megawatts of Klamath River generation.

Some have suggested it is not a large amount of generation in the overall portfolio of PacifiCorp's generation resource. But it is significant because it's clean, renewable and has no carbon footprint.

So let's be honest: It's fairly easy to reach an agreement where everyone gets the wish list and no one has to be accountable to pay for it. It's time for economics: Who is going to pay?

You and I, the rate payers, will be the ones paying for this "proposed" solution. You'll find that no one who signed on to that agreement has to pay for it.

Don Skundrick has lived in the Rogue Valley since 1955. He has served as chairman of the board of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. (SOREDI) and The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County, been a member of the regional advisory board for PacifiCorp and is currently a member of the Medford Water Commission.

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