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Okanogan PUD leading us down the river to ruin

Letter to the Editor


In spite of all the economic factors pointing in the opposite direction, our Okanogan PUD is pushing ahead with the electrification of Enloe Dam. This decision has no basis in reality and defies common sense.

The estimated construction cost of $42.5 million dollars is only just a guess. The commissioners admit they have no idea what the actual cost will be. Whether $45 million, $60 million or even higher, this powerhouse will never pay off the borrowing required to build it. The annual losses of $2 million dollars projected by the PUD make this a losing project.

The 4.5MW of power generated is only a quarter of that required by the Oroville Sub-station. The new power-sharing agreement with Douglas PUD for 22 percent of Wells Dam is equivalent to 170 MW of additional power. The current Okanogan PUD average daily load is 77MW. Twenty-two percent of Wells Dam power equals 34 Enloe Dams with no associated risk, expensive financing or long-term debt.

The PUD makes a false argument claiming the cost of dam removal will be carried by the ratepayers. There is no legal binding document that substantiates this claim. NOAA has offered to serve as the lead agency for the dam removal option. NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service administer $22 million dollars in new revenue each year allocated for salmon and steelhead recovery by the mid-Columba River PUDs. The Similkameen would be a high priority project.

With 350 miles of river and stream spawning habitat, the Similkameen River is considered the best and most effective investment for the recovery of upper Columbia River steelhead. Steelhead spawning in the Similkameen River could number 100,000 adults and result in a viable, self-sustaining fishery. This improved sport fishery would benefit all the motels, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, gas stations, retail outlets, guide services and other small businesses in Okanogan County.

The Okanogan PUD is ready to award a contract to a major dam-building corporation in the next few weeks. The estimated cost will not be known for 3-4 months. Write, phone or email your commissioners. Congressman Newhouse also needs to be informed by your opinion.

Joseph Enzensperger


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