Affordable Power

Affordable power is needed for efficient use, distribution, and management of water that sustains the basin’s agricultural and biological communities. Unlike many other Reclamation projects, the Klamath Project does not generate hydropower; it authorized a private party to generate using Project water in exchange for reduced power rates for the irrigators. This arrangement was continued, with modifications, in the 1956 contract between Reclamation and the company that became PacifiCorp. The contract expired in 2006, and since 2013, water users have been experiencing full retail (tariff) power costs which are negatively impacting both On- and Off-Project irrigators.

In fulfillment of the Department of the Interior’s agreement to advance the purposes of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) to the extent possible under existing authorities and funding, in 2013 the Klamath Basin Area Office (KBAO) began developing an affordable power program, aligned with the KBRA’s Power for Water Management Program (PWMP).

Recognizing that affordable power is central to the capability for improved water management to reduce conflicts over water, this planning program is authorized under the Klamath Basin Water Supply Enhancement Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-498). Because Reclamation policy requires that feasibility studies such as those required by the Enhancement Act be preceded by appraisal studies, the CAPP was conducted as an appraisal study of affordable power options in preparation for a full feasibility study.

Although the KBRA expired on December 31, 2015 due to the lack of federal legislation to authorize and fund its implementation, Reclamation’s affordable power work continued in 2016 in order to guide the irrigation community’s quest for affordable power in the event of an alternative settlement and federal legislation. This work is now concluded, and this page memorializes the work completed to date.

Comprehensive Agricultural Power Plan (CAPP)

KBAO’s affordable power effort is the Comprehensive Agricultural Power Plan, a planning effort that encompasses the federal power and renewable power components of the PWMP.

The federal power efforts included an exploration of the feasibility of acquisition of federal power to serve Klamath loads. Results for Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for Oregon loads indicated a potential power cost reduction of 7-10%, but that there is potential for the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) to impose a temporary transition charge to compensate PacifiCorp for stranded power investments. Acquisition of federal power from Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) for California loads has no benefit because WAPA has no base load power available; all power from WAPA for California loads would be purchased at market rates. A decision to implement the federal power program is on hold pending a more complete understanding of the impact of a transition charge, as well as the trajectory of future PacifiCorp vs. BPA power rates, on the economics of federal power.

KBAO’s contribution to the renewable power program was the development of a Comprehensive Agricultural Power Plan (CAPP), which evaluated a full range of affordable power measures with an objective to assemble a package of options that, collectively, could deliver the power cost goal of the PWMP. KBAO contracted with CDM Smith, Inc. for assistance in developing the CAPP, and incorporated a robust stakeholder engagement plan into the project. Deliverables included an Initial Scoping Report released in April 2014 that documents 16% to 45% savings in power usage in similar projects elsewhere, an Initial Alternatives Information Report completed in December 2016, and a Final Status and Next Steps Report released in December, 2016.

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Last Updated: 6/8/17