DRA Files Comments on Pelton-Round Butte “Low Impact” Re-certification – by Greg McMillan

Deschutes River Alliance Files Comments in Low Impact Hydropower Institute Proceeding

Regarding Re-certification of the Pelton-Round Butte Project as a Low Impact Facility

Photo by Greg McMillan

Pelton Dam. Photo by Greg McMillan

On January 6, 2015, the Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) filed comments opposing the re-certification of the Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex as a low impact hydroelectric operation. The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) certifies dams that meet stringent standards for the production of clean renewable energy. Utility companies that obtain this certification are considered to meet state requirements for inclusion of clean energy in their power production portfolios. Utility companies that obtain this certification may also market higher priced “clean energy” packages to consumers (such as Portland General Electric’s “Green Source” package). LIHI certification guarantees that a dam operation has minimal impact on the river it’s located on, as well as the attendant fish and wildlife.

The basis for our position are the ongoing violations of Statewide Water Quality Standards and the requirements of the Water Quality Management and Monitoring Plan that are part of the operating license for the Pelton-Round Butte Project, which is owned by Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.

We identified three matters in support of our opposition to the application:

  • A failure to meet the dissolved oxygen standard;
  • A failure to meet the pH standard; and
  • A failure to meet the nuisance phytoplankton requirements.

Our complete comments to LIHI are posted on our website.

We did not take this action without serious deliberation and consideration of its implications. We have discussed these issues with representatives of PGE for nearly two years. Despite evidence from us, and PGE’s own consultants, there has been no admission of problems in the lower Deschutes River. No plan has been presented to us, or to any government agency that we are aware of, to correct the problems we’ve identified. To date we have not seen evidence that PGE intends to act on these issues and feel compelled to take this step in the interest of the health of our river.

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