Hydroelectric Management and Dam Removal Activities

PacifiCorp Klamath Hydroelectric Project

PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project was constructed between 1911 and 1962. The Klamath Hydroelectric Project includes eight developments: the East and West Side power facilities, Keno, J.C. Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2, Fall Creek, and Iron Gate dams. Link River Dam and Upper Klamath Lake are not part of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project.

PacifiCorp operated the Klamath Hydroelectric Project under a 50-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) until the license expired in 2006. PacifiCorp continues to operate the Klamath Hydroelectric Project under annual licenses based on the terms of the previous license.

Although the Bureau of Reclamation’s Link River Dam and PacifiCorp’s Keno Dam currently have fish ladders that will pass anadromous fish, none of PacifiCorp’s Four Facilities (i.e., Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2, and J.C Boyle dams and associated structures) were constructed with adequate fish ladders and, as a result, anadromous fish have been blocked from accessing the upper reaches of the Klamath Basin for close to a century.

In 2004, PacifiCorp filed an application with the FERC for a new 50-year license for the Klamath Hydroelectric Project (FERC 2007). PacifiCorp’s application did not include provisions that allowed for fish passage upstream of the dams. Under its Federal Power Act authorities, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued modified mandatory prescriptions for fishways and recommended certain fishery protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures in the FERC relicensing proceeding on January 26, 2007 (USDOI 2007, NMFS 2007). The mandatory fishway prescriptions provide for fish passage around the Four Facilities. Therefore, in the new license for the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, FERC would need to include conditions requiring PacifiCorp to implement the fishway prescriptions and provide for fish passage around all of its Four Facilities.

Beginning in 2005, negotiations by a diverse group of stakeholders, including Federal agencies; the States of California and Oregon; the Yurok Tribe, Hoopa Tribe, Karuk Tribe, and Klamath Tribes of Oregon; counties; agricultural organizations; and conservation and fishing groups led to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) and the associated Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). Both the KHSA and KBRA were signed in February 2010; however, the KBRA has since expired.

The KHSA provides a process for the Secretary of the Interior to make a determination (Secretarial Determination) whether removal of the Four Facilities on the Klamath River (i.e., Iron Gate, Copco 1 and 2, and J.C. Boyle dams) will (a) advance restoration of salmonid fisheries in the Klamath Basin, and (b) be in the public’s interest, which includes but is not limited to consideration of potential impacts on affected local communities and tribes.

Klamath River Renewal Corporation

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed by the signatories of the KHSA. The signatories of the amended KSHA include the States of California and Oregon, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe, the Klamath Tribes of Oregon, local governments, PacifiCorp, irrigators, conservation, and fishing groups. These signatories appointed the KRRC to take ownership and oversee the removal of the Four Facilities on the Klamath River. KRRC’s work is funded by PacifiCorp customer surcharges and California Proposition 1 water bond funds.

Learn more about the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.

Iron Gate Hatchery

Iron Gate Hatchery was constructed at the base of the Iron Gate Dam and began operating in 1965. PacifiCorp funds the operation of the hatchery for mitigation purposes after Iron Gate Dam blocked anadromous access to 16 miles of habitat downstream of Copco 1 Dam. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) operates the hatchery, producing Fall Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout.

The mitigation goals for the hatchery are:

  • 5 million Chinook salmon fingerlings,
  • 1 million Chinook salmon yearlings,
  • 500,000 coho salmon yearling, and
  • 1 million steelhead yearlings.

Because coho salmon are an ESA-listed species, CDFW manages their production under a Hatchery Genetic Management Plan (HGMP) for the Iron Gate Hatchery (2014).

FERC Relicensing

Settlement Agreements

Interim Operations

Last updated by on September 27, 2019