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Deal reached to demolish 4 Klamath River hydroelectric dams by 2020

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Deal reached to demolish 4 Klamath River hydroelectric dams by 2020

TheU.S. government, California, Oregon and PacifiCorp signed a formal deal April 6 to demolish fourhydroelectric dams on the Klamath River as part of a massive river restorationeffort.

Thedeal comes after the parties reached an agreement in principle in February to remove the dams,which have a combined operating capacity of 178.8 MW, according to SNL Energydata. The newly amended agreement, which will be filed with FERCon July 1, requires PacifiCorp to transfer its operating licenses for the fourdams to private company Klamath River Renewal Corp., which will oversee the damremoval in 2020. Until the dams are decommissioned, PacifiCorp will continue tooperate the facilities, which are IronGate, JohnC Boyle, Copco1 and Copco2. The deal was signed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, theU.S. Department of Commerce, the states of California and Oregon, andPacifiCorp.

"Today is a historic day where the parties who haveworked for decades to restore the Klamath Basin are reaffirming theircommitment to each other for the shared vision of fisheries restoration andirrigated agriculture co-existing as we move into the future," InteriorSecretary Sally Jewell said. "This agreement is an important initial stepas we work toward a comprehensive set of actions to advance long-termrestoration and sustainability for tribes, fisheries, and agriculture and waterusers across the Klamath Basin."

The California and Oregon public utility commissions foundremoving the dams would be in the best interest of PacifiCorp's customers,which otherwise would likely have to help fund environmental retrofits to thedams to allow passage of salmon, steelhead and other fish.

Stakeholders, including members of Congress, tribes andfarmers, signed in agreement in 2010 to demolish the dams. The pact requiredcongressional approval, but legislation to remove the dams was never authorizedin the past two sessions of Congress, causing stakeholders to seek analternative path to dam removal. The April 6 agreement will require no federalfunding.