Oregon Hydropower Plant to be Removed

Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski cheered a cooperative agreement among state and federal resource agencies, PacifiCorp, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, American Rivers and the Hood River Watershed Group, whereby the Powerdale Hydroelectric Project will be decommissioned and portions of it removed beginning in 2010.

Salem, Oregon – June 23, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Powerdale Hydroelectric Project is located in Hood River, Oregon on the Hood River. The six MW project is owned by PacifiCorp and can serve the needs of about 3,000 typical residential customers. Powerdale’s federal operating license expired in 2000, and rather than accepting a new license, PacifiCorp approached parties to the licensing process to see if an alternative to a new license could be negotiated. “I’d like to commend all parties to the settlement process for working together to reach common ground,” said Governor Kulongoski during a ceremony today in his office at the State Capitol. “Constructive, collaborative settlement talks like these are the model for how difficult natural resource issues should be handled.” If PacifiCorp had chosen to accept a new operating license, Powerdale’s future economic viability was doubtful. A new license would have come with more-restrictive operating conditions, and the plant would have also required a considerable amount of new capital investment to keep it operating for the next 30 to 50 years. The company determined that it made more sense for its customers to close the plant in 2010 and use its capital resources for other more cost-effective generating sources. “We are pleased that the parties were able to reach agreement that meets everyone’s interests,” said David McAllister, ODFW habitat division administrator. “This agreement ensures restoration of the Hood River and protection of riparian habitat for fish and wildlife.” Along with the project owner, PacifiCorp, other parties to the settlement include, National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Water Resources Department, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, American Rivers and the Hood River Watershed Group. The Powerdale Project now has a small diversion dam with an operating fish ladder. Water is conveyed via a three-mile-long flowline to the downstream powerhouse close by where the Hood River flows into the Columbia River. A fish-counting station connected to the dam’s fish ladder is owned by the Bonneville Power Administration and operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs. The facility is critical to fish research that will help with salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the basin. For this and other reasons, the agreement permits continued project operation until 2010, at which time the dam will be removed. The fish ladder, which was installed when the dam was built, continues to allow the sorting of fish at the station as well as passage of anadromous fish into the upper Hood River Basin.