Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Utility should tear down Enloe Dam
I attended the Nov. 5 meeting of the Okanogan County Public Utility District. I found it to be interesting and informative.
The PUD presented two options, remove Enloe Dam at a cost that could reach $1 billion or replace the existing powerhouse to feed it at a cost of $60-80 million.
Enloe Dam went offline in the 1950s and has sat vacant for nearly 53 years. Now, all of a sudden, we need it.
I think those benefiting will be the PUD and the Colville tribe, which will receive 49 percent of the power at cost. The ratepayers are being asked to foot the bill with a 50-year bond, on top of which, it did not work out to be 9.5 percent as stated, but more like 26 percent.
I asked at this meeting about federal funding and grants for dam removal. The answer I received was that it would take an act of Congress. The Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land, should have to share in the cost since it is mandating use it or remove it.
The federal government funded removal of two dams on the Elwha River at a total cost was $385 million. So why would it cost $1 billion to remove Enloe Dam? That’s nearly three times the cost of the overall Elwha project.
I am interested in hearing about “other” options utility commissioners say they are not at liberty to discuss.
I believe the cost of putting Enloe Dam back online is far too much for the amount of produceable energy. I would like the PUD to ask its 15,000 customers what they want to see done. Otherwise, take down this dam. We cannot afford it.
Richard C. Klein, Tonasket
Dam does not make fiscal sense
Okanogan County Public Utility District’s development of hydropower at old Enloe Dam has been a hot topic.
As vocal opponents of the project, we have challenged the wisdom of adding $40-50 million more to the $38 million already owed by our utility. We are trying to avoid a huge blunder that will bankrupt the PUD and have severe negative impacts on the outdoor recreation future of north Okanogan County.
The math is simple, using the project estimates from 2007 — 45,000 megawatt-hours will be generated annually. It will cost the PUD $2.61 million dollars annually to operate.
Since this is surplus power, it would be sold at wholesale rates to outside utilities. Northwest (Mid-Columbia) Wholesale Power sold in September at $23.50/MWh and is expected to remain low long into the future.
Here is the equation: 45,000 MWh times $23.50/MWh equals $1,057,500 annually. The $2.61 million in expenses for a return of $1.1 million in revenues spells $1.5 million dollars in losses each year. Who pays to keep this sinking ship afloat? We do.
Thanks to The Chronicle for conducting the public opinion poll concerning the future of the Similkameen River. We, and the vast majority of the people we talk to, believe in her future as a wild scenic river, cleaned of its polluted mining sediments, serving as a source of inspiration, enhanced fisheries, wildlife and outdoor recreation.
The PUD claims the utility will be financially responsible and forced to remove Enloe Dam and the sediments behind it are without substance. The Bureau of Land Management would release them of liability if they would choose not to go forward.
Let’s get to the table and make it happen.
Joseph Enzensperger, Oroville
Easements restrict public access
In response to the topic of conservation easements. The loser with conservation easements has been the public.
One of my grandparents, Amelia Zachman, homesteaded hundreds of acres on the end of Bear Road.
The land was sold to the game department in the early 1960s and the public had access until 2001. That fall, the road was closed and a gate was installed to keep the public out.
Since then, the public has lost access to state land. The game department tore down all the structures and removed all equipment. All that is left is the foundation next to the lake.
I will never be allowed access to pay homage to the homestead.
Bear Road was vacated, but only the non-traveled section.
Jim Bear gave Mr. Taylor the deed to that road for him and others to have access to their cows. How much did the game department pay for that easement?
Ernie Buchanan, Okanogan
Stress, frustration create hostility
Power, stress and frustration lead to resentment and abuse, and finally burnout, which turns ugly.
Recently at the food bank, I saw such a situation when the room with food was empty of recipients while people stood in line outside in 20-degree weather. I asked why and was told to mind my own business; 15 minutes later the same thing happened.
Perhaps if this volunteer knew you appreciated them, it might get better. As a volunteer myself for the past 35 years, I have reached a point of burnout and thankfully I’ve had a friend along the way help me see.
If you are getting crabby from stress, take a break.
Vickie Ledger, Omak
Letters to the editor policy
The Chronicle accepts letters to the editor of 250 words or less. Letters must bear the signature and hometown of the writer and a daytime telephone number. Letters with multiple signatures or sent to multiple publications will not be considered. Letters may not include personal attacks or thank you messages. Letters are subject to editing. Publication does not imply agreement or endorsement by The Chronicle. Letters may be mailed to The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, Attn. : Letter to the Editor, P.O. Box 553, Omak, WA 98841; dropped off at The Chronicle office, 618 Okoma Drive, Omak; or emailed to news@omak chronicle.com.