Pacific Power will close dam on Hood River

Powerdale will turn off by summer of 2010

After 80 years, Powerdale Dam in Hood River is no longer cost effective to operate and is set to be removed in 2010.

The small electric plant, owned by PacifiCorp, was built during severe winter storms in late 1922 and early 1923. It began operating years before the U.S. Corps of Engineers constructed major hydropower operations along the Columbia River. Dave Kvamme, PacifiCorp spokesperson, said in the early stages of its operation, Powerdale generated so much power that about half of its production was sold on the open market.

“It was a state of the art dam for its time,” Kvamme said.

However, during the next eight decades the consumer demand for electricity grew and the maximum output of six megawatts at Powerdale began to lag behind that of larger structures.

In addition, Kvamme said the aging plant required a multi-million dollar overhaul of its fish ladder and screens to better protect endangered salmon runs. Those pending expenditures were coupled with the need to make other capital improvements to extend the dam’s predicted lifespan of 2018.

“The dam is not really putting out enough power at this point to justify those costs,” Kvamme said.

Instead of seeking to re-license the project, PacifiCorp began settlement negotiations in 2000 for the dam’s removal, These dicussions included state and federal agencies, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, local river users and environmentalists.

Under that agreement, the company isn’t required to install new fish facilities while operations continue. Instead, PacifiCorp has offered to halt turbines between April 15 and June 30 each year, when juvenile steelhead, chinook and other salmon are migrating to sea. More water will also be released into the river while the plant is running.

Under the settlement, PacifiCorp will transfer 465 acres of the property along the Hood River to a yet-unknown public or private entity and provide more than $150,000 in funding for long-term preservation of the land for habitat and public recreation. The state will take over water rights and commit them to instream flow.

Currently, Powerdale and Condit Dam, its sister operation in Klickitat County, Wash., share four employees. Kvamme said within the next eight years, three of these individuals will be eligible for retirement.

He said the remaining worker will be able to transfer to another project since Condit is also slated for removal in 2006.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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