Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, May 23 2013 at 4:27 PM, Updated: Thu, May 23 2013 at 4:40 PM
The city of Klamath Falls is taking a close look at getting into the electric utility business...but Pacific Power is strongly opposed to the idea.
Klamath Falls Mayor Todd Kellstrom thinks that forming a municipal utility district could be a 'twin win' situation for the city...
"I wanted to look at possible revenue enhancement for our budget, as well as providing for the citizens of Klamath Falls, cheaper power rates."
But Pacific Power says they're ready for a long legal battle to prevent the city from getting into the electrical utility business.
"They're understandably upset with us." Notes Mayor Kellstrom. "We represent a trend, perhaps, that they don't want to see."
The Klamath Falls city council voted Monday night to spend 40 thousand dollars on a study to determine if forming a utility district is feasible.
Kellstrom explains: "What that will be is to value the infrastructure, put a cost on that, and then tell us what it will take to buy power, to distribute that power."
Pacific Power claims the city can't legally operate a utility district...a claim that Mayor Kellstrom denies...
"The city has a right to own and operate a utility. We operate water, wastewater, and geothermal right now."
Kellstrom says the feasibility study should be completed sometime in August.
"People are saying, 'go for it - if you can save us money, let's see if we can do it."
The city has posted a website on the issue: www.kfallselectric.com
Klamath Falls interest was also sparked by formation of an electrical utility district in Hermiston. That city acquired Pacific Power distribution lines, and now provides power at a 25% savings.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.