Pacific Power, Klamath Falls Utility Battle Heating Up

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, July 19 2013 at 2:51 PM, Updated: Fri, July 19 2013 at 3:07 PM

A Klamath Falls study on developing an electrical utility district is facing strong resistance from Pacific a 40 thousand dollar feasibility study nears completion.

Mayor Todd Kellstrom thinks the idea could save people in Klamath Falls a lot of money...

"Certainly a good example is Hermiston.  They went through this process, and came out on the other side - and they're saving about 25% on their electricity."

But PacifiCorps's Bob Gravely says Pacific Power was a willing seller in Hermiston - but not in Klamath Falls...

"It's not going to happen in this case.  This would be a much more drawn out, through the courts, and contested, expensive, divisive battle."

There's more contention over the cost of the system.  The city says Pacific Power's infrastructure is worth about 12 million.  But Mayor Kellstrom says the power company claims it's worth much more...

"They've said hundreds of millions.  They haven't really put a point on it, and I don't think they want to."

The mayor says that cheaper electrical rates could lure new business to town.

Gravely argues that the long battle ahead will only make the city look bad to business...

"Because it would be a long, expensive fight to condemn a private business.  It does not send a good message to other businesses that are here, or considering coming here."

The power company doesn't want to see a trend of municipal utility districts spreading through the state...and they won't go down without a fight in Klamath Falls.

There's no deadline for the city to make a decision.

Once the draft study is reviewed by council, they could opt for a more detailed study...or, abandon the idea altogether.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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