The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) said it officially made a supplemental submission July 29 to its “definite plan,” which had been submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on July 28, 2018.
The submission to FERC is a significant step towards fulfilling terms of the “Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement,” which aims to remove four energy-producing dams on the Klamath River and restore it to its free-flowing, natural state.
Collectively, the removal of all four Klamath dams would be the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.
“This is a project of vast importance for the environment, the river, and the people and communities in the Klamath Basin,” said Mark Bransom, the renewal corporation’s CEO, in an organization press release.
“We have the funding, the team, the expertise and the plan to do it right and pen a vibrant new chapter of Klamath River history.
“We want to particularly underscore the years of effort by tribal communities who truly laid the foundation for where we are today.”
KRRC actually has two separate applications pending before FERC — a license-to-transfer and a license-to-surrender — both of which need to be approved before the dam removal could proceed.
Matt Cox, KRRC’s director of communications, told The Triplicate last week that the organization is hopeful its July 29 submission will provide FERC with all of the information it requires to make a favorable determination on the applications.
KRRC earlier had convened an independent board of consultants to analyze its “definite plan” and to provide input, suggestions and questions, which were released in December 2018.
The consulting board included experts in dam construction and removal, engineering, aquatic and terrestrial biology, construction cost estimating, insurance, and bonding for large infrastructure projects.
A key component of the July 29 supplemental submission was a renewed cost estimate for the dam removal project.
That cost estimate is now $433.7 million, still below the KRRC total budget of $450 million, but higher than the original estimate of $397.7 million in the organization’s “definite plan.”
The updated projected costs include a $62-million buffer for additional project expenses that could arise, leaving $16 million in a cash reserve.
According to KKRC’s press release, the updated projection incorporates cost-estimate work from the Bureau of Reclamation, tens of thousands of scenarios that could affect costs, and expert input from the board of consultants.
The July 29 supplemental submission also reports it has secured an extension from all of its funding sources, which should allow the project’s completion prior to the expiration date.
KRRC has $249.5 million approved through a California bond measure, which originally was scheduled to expire July 1, 2020, but has been extended through July 1, 2025.
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission has agreed to contribute $184 million, in addition to $16 million from the California Public Utilities Commission. Those two sources of funds are now approved through Dec. 31, 2024.
The recent supplemental submission also addresses how KRRC would respond should costs balloon beyond the organization’s current budget, once the license-to-transfer and license-to-surrender applications are approved.
“Prior to construction, the Kiewit team will identify such opportunities to reduce costs and risks that could arise after construction begins,” said KKRC, “consistent with the project purpose and any permit terms for protection of environmental quality and public interest.”
A target date of Jan. 1, 2020 had been established for the start of the facilities’ removal, but that timeline no longer is feasible.
Although KRRC said it can’t control the timeline, which ultimately will depend upon decisions made by FERC, it did propose new dates for various steps in the project.
Under the new timeline, KRRC hopes to begin pre-drawdown construction actions such as hatchery modification, access improvement, flood-control improvements and replacing the Yreka water system, by May 2021, with a goal of completion by December 2021.
The reservoir drawdown then would be January to March 2022. Those dates are not flexible, having been identified as the time period necessary to protect fishery resources.
Following the drawdown, the new timeline proposes construction and mitigation actions spanning from mid-March to December 2022.
The KRRC filling, along with its “definite plan,” are at www.klamathrenewal.org/definite-plan.