Klamath Falls, Ore. – Electric bills for farmers on the Klamath Project are more than 2000% higher than they were 13 years ago.
But, a meeting is coming up in Klamath Falls to address that problem.
Getting irrigation water isn’t the only challenge facing Klamath Project farmers and ranchers.
The cost of powering pumps to move that water has skyrocketed.
Paul Simmons serves as Executive Director, and chief legal counsel to the Klamath Water Users Association. “Beginning of 2006, the rates ratcheted up, stair-stepped to where they are today. And so the increase is up to 2000, or 2500 percent.”
Simmons notes CopCo, and later PacifiCorp had been selling power to farmers for pennies on the dollar when hydroelectric dams were placed in the Klamath River. “And it would sell power to the Bureau of Reclamation and water users on the Klamath Project at low cost.”
That agreement began in 1917, and ended when the dams weren’t re-licensed in 2006.
“Suddenly, the Klamath Project and upper basin irrigators were just sort of regular customers.” Reflected Simmons.
A meeting will be held at Klamath Community College on Tuesday of next week (September 10th) to study options for lowering those rates.
Simmons says plenty of options are up for discussion. “The use of batteries – there’s local solar – small hydro, and various things that are on the table.”
Public input from the meeting will be addressed in an upcoming congressional report.
“We’re enthused.” Noted Simmons. “Because Congress actually recognized the need to deal with the power cost situation on the project.”
The meeting will be held on Tuesday the 10th from 9 to 12:30 in the Klamath Community College Conference Center. That’s ‘Building 7’, or the old KCC bookstore.
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.