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FERC Approves License Surrender and Decommissioning of the Lower Klamath Project Dams


November 17, 2022 ( Newswire) Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously approved the surrender of the Lower Klamath Project License and the decommissioning of the four hydroelectric dams in the Lower Klamath Project. The License Surrender Order is the final decision by FERC on the Klamath River Renewal project. The License Surrender Order is the action that allows the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) to decommission and remove the four hydroelectric dams and implement related restoration activities.

“KRRC is very pleased by the Commission’s decision today,” said Mark Bransom, Chief Executive Officer of KRRC, “This important milestone reflects decades of collective work by the many dedicated Signatories of the Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement to restore the Klamath River and we are prepared to begin the largest dam removal and river restoration effort in U.S. history.”

The decommissioning process will start once the KRRC and the States of Oregon and California review terms and conditions of the surrender, and accept the June 2021 License Transfer Order, which will transfer ownership of the dams from PacifiCorp to KRRC and the States. The parties expect to accept the Transfer Order within 30 days of today’s License Surrender Order.

“Today’s action by FERC paves the way for revitalization and restoration of the Klamath Basin. Dam removal is the first step in healing of the Klamath River and all Klamath Tribal communities,” said Amy Cordalis, KRRC Board member appointed by the Yurok Tribe.

Wendy Ferris-George, KRRC Board member appointed by the Karuk Tribe said, “Dam removal is imminent. We deeply appreciate the many Tribal people who have dedicated their lives to bring balance to the Klamath River and their communities.”

Following the acceptance of License Transfer, KRRC plans to begin dam removal activities in 2023 and be completed in 2024, with the return of the river to a free-flowing condition through the project reach. Personnel and equipment will be deployed in early 2023 to commence pre-removal construction, including infrastructure improvements and modifications to the dams. Reservoir drawdown and dam removal is expected to begin in January 2024, with restoration activities commencing immediately following dam removal. Restoration of the project footprint will continue for several years.

Dam removal is the first crucial step to restore the health of the Klamath River and the communities that depend upon it. The revitalization of the Basin will help local communities thrive, by creating a more robust regional economy and providing lasting environment benefits. KRRC is pleased to be part of a cooperative effort to re-establish the natural vitality of the Klamath River and help strengthen the entire Basin for the future.

“This is an incredibly important moment and I want to acknowledge and thank our many partners, and particularly our tribal partners, for their enormous efforts and strong collaboration to get us to the point of restoring the Klamath River so that it can support communities in the Basin for generations to come,” said Brian Johnson, President of the KRRC Board.

The License Surrender Order can be viewed here.

Additional information about the Klamath dam removal project can be viewed here.

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) is a private, independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed in 2016 by 23 signatories of the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, or KHSA. KRRC is part of a cooperative effort to re-establish the natural vitality of the Klamath River so that it can support all communities in the Klamath Basin. Signatories, which include the States of California and Oregon, local governments, Tribal nations, dam owner PacifiCorp, irrigators, and several conservation and fishing groups, appointed KRRC to take ownership and oversee removal of four hydroelectric dams on the river. KRRC’s work is funded by PacifiCorp customer surcharges and California Proposition 1 water bond funds.

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