Enloe Dam Hydroelectric Project
As we move forward with electrifying Enloe Dam, Okanogan PUD, commissioners and staff want to make sure our ratepayers have correct information regarding the Enloe Dam Project. Our recent political campaigns have demonstrated the "alternative facts" are often considered as truth. While we have maintained an Enloe Dam page on our website, we understand that the volume and technical nature of those documents may be overwhelming to some. This Fact Check addition is intended to address current questions and comments from our ratepayers and will be updated on a regular basis as we proceed through the Project. (Click on a link below to reveal the answer.)
The PUD has already conducted all sediment studies as required by consulting parties, including the Washington Department of Ecology and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These studies concluded that energizing Enloe Dam would not materially disturb the existing sediment or harm the eco-structure within the Enloe Dam project boundaries. Regardless of any other funding that entities may assemble, additional surveys were neither required nor necessary and would be outside of the scope of the project. For more information please refer to the above Q & A regarding dam removal and liability.
PM&E’s are FERC mandated measures designed to protect and enhance the ecological surroundings of Enloe Dam. Electrifying Enloe Dam offers the following ecological investments:
· Enhancement of fish habitat far exceeding the minimal fisheries impacts of the Project. A cold water spawning and rearing refuge will be built out of an existing side channel, 15,000 cubic yards of spawning gravels will be added to the gravel-poor Similkameen River, and large woody debris will be transported beyond the existing dam, among other things.
· A comprehensive vegetation and wetland management program, providing restoration, mitigation, and monitoring.
· Protection of water temperature, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved gas, and other water temperature parameters.
· Recreation amenities that greatly exceed the measurable effects of the project, including substantial access improvements and interpretation.
Protection of local wildlife through project design and construction as well as the construction of enhancements to benefit bald eagles.
As a condition of the FERC license, the District will plant riparian and wetland vegetation along the reservoir as well as abandon a portion of the existing unimproved shoreline road and return it to natural condition. Restored areas will be monitored and replanted if necessary. To further enhance vegetation and prevent damage to wetlands, a permanent livestock fence (wildlife friendly) and barricades will be installed. For more information please refer to the Revegetation and Wetlands Management Plan.
As a condition of the FERC license, the District will implement two fish/wildlife enhancement projects, both located downstream of the dam. The first project is a side channel enhancement, which will pump cold groundwater into the bottom of an existing side channel through perforated pipe, enhancing rearing and cold water refugee for steelhead species. This project was developed through extensive consultation and study with a focus on the benefits to native fish species. The channel will address two of the most substantial limiting factors for salmonids in the system, including high temperatures during low flow and the limited rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead in the system. For more information please refer to the Fish Management Plan.
The second fish enhancement project will enhance spawning habitat for anadromous and resident fish species, with a focus on salmon and steelhead. The project will add spawning gravels (1-3 inches in size), which will be placed in the active flood plain during low flow periods in each 5-year period spanning the first 25 years of the license. Additional gravel may be required, depending upon results. For more information please refer to the Fish Management Plan.
Due to extensive regulatory costs associated with maintaining a historic structure, the District will have to remove the old powerhouse, as required by the Historic Properties Management Plan. However, an opportunity is being provided for a new owner to step forward first. On January 11, 2016 the Board of Commissioners passed Resolution No. 1616 which directed the District to solicit interested parties for a period of five years to assume ownership of the Enloe Dam Powerhouse, as required by the Historic Properties Management Plan. Community groups, nonprofit organizations, state, federal or local agencies can currently submit a plan to adapt the old powerhouse to an alternative use. Anyone applying will need to demonstrate the capability to adapt the facility for recreational, historical or community use. Any prospective owner will have to negotiate a lease with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land where the old powerhouse sits. Consideration will be given to proposals of an appropriate commercial or mixed use that maintains the powerhouse’s historic character. The complete solicitation document can be found by clicking here.
A professionally produced video titled Washington State’s 2016 Most Endangered Historic Properties, featuring the old Enloe Dam powerhouse, can be found by clicking on the following YouTube link: 2016 Most Endangered Historic Properties
The Okanogan PUD’s current budget can be summarized as:
Retail electrical sales $44.6 million
Wholesale electrical sales $1.9 million
Other income $4.3 million
Cost of electricity $23.9 million
Maintenance and Operation $21.6 million
The complete 2017 Okanogan PUD budget can be viewed on our website.
The cost of power we buy is the largest single expense. This power is purchased from many sources:
BPA - Federal Hydro, Nuclear 55%
Wells Dam 36%
Nine Canyon 5%
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license was $14.6 million. The estimate for construction costs in the license application is $31.0 million.
The District will spend approximately $2.4 million of the total estimated project cost of $31 million on construction and implementation of PM&E’s over 40 years, a significant portion of which will employ local community professional services, vendors, and contractors.
The cost of wholesale electricity is heavily influenced by the cost of natural gas. Currently, the market prices are at a low price due to fracking, which has increased the supply of natural gas. With the current concerns with fracking, the expectation is for the natural gas price to begin increasing, which in turn will increase the wholesale electricity price.
The output of Enloe Dam will be approximately 6% of our yearly load requirement. This figure would decrease to 3% if the Colville Tribes decide to opt in for their 50% share.
Regardless of electrification, the District needs to insure the dam is safe and is maintained properly. The previous 10 years of expenses, non-capital outlays, for Enloe Dam are approximately $75,000. This does not include future large costs such as de-watering to inspect the face and toe of the dam. That process has been estimated to cost approximately $1,000,000.
As a condition of the FERC license, the District will install campsites, picnic areas, a vault toilet, develop a parking area, a boat launch and take out, additional trails, cleanup, and restoration of wooded areas near the campsite, develop interpretive publications and an information board, and enhance downstream access for boaters and anglers. Additionally, the District will install an 8,000-foot-long cattle fence (wildlife friendly), a stock watering tank to provide offsite watering, and a cattle guard. For more information please refer to the Recreation Management Plan.
In addition to required measures, the PUD also facilitated the Similkameen Trail, including partial funding of re-decking the bridge and abandoned railroad access.
Okanogan PUD has reached out to several organizations regarding removal of Enloe Dam. During numerous Board of Commissioner meetings, in which opponents attended, three provisions were outlined in order for the Commissioners to consider dam removal. The provisions were: 1) a lead agency, with financial resources and strength equal to or greater than Okanogan PUD, that would assume all responsibility and liability for dam removal; 2) secure source(s) of funds in an amount necessary to fund all dam removal activities; and 3) a provisional plan for removing Enloe Dam. PUD Commissioners gave removal groups several years to find an agency to assume responsibility for the dam and fund its removal. None of the agencies were willing to take over the project without wanting the PUD and its ratepayers to maintain liability. The letter from United States Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can be found here.
Nongovernmental groups (NGO’s) like Center for Environmental Law and Protection (CELP), American Whitewater (AW), Hydropower Reform Coalition (HRC), and Columbiana, want to see Enloe Dam removed. If electrification of Enloe Dam does not take place, Okanogan PUD will be forced to remove the dam at ratepayers expense. Additionally, dam removal requires another FERC license process which ratepayers would have to pay for. Therefore, if the cost to remove Enloe and the cost to energize Enloe were the same, it is in the best interest of the ratepayers to energize so that we receive something for our investment. Please follow this link to view the BLM letter.
The fact is that the costs of dam removals in our region vary widely, starting at $35 million (without sediment excavation and disposal) to $350 million and counting.
a. Removal Cost Examples:
1. Mill Pond Dam (WA): Seattle City Light is committed to $60 million for removal and restoration – removal has yet to occur. (Mill Pond Dam Removal)
2. Milltown Dam (MT): when the project is complete, it will cost $120 million. The area was listed as a federal Superfund Site and required removal of more than 2.6 million cubic yards of sediment that was contaminated from legacy mining activities. (Robbins, 2008)
3. Elwha (WA): $26.9 million dam removal contract was awarded in 2010. Dam removal finished in May 2013. The additional cost of Elwha River Restoration is approximately $324.7 million. (Elwha River Restoration Frequently Asked Questions). This removal included unintended consequences such as a rebuild of a WSDOT bridge for an additional $29.5 million. (Major, 2017)
4. Condit (WA): PacificCorp figures the cost of removal at $35 million. (Condit). Sediment excavation and disposal were not conducted.
Unlike other dams, such as Milltown, the mining company upriver of Enloe Dam no longer exists and therefore costs for any required remediation would be unrecoverable. The responsible mining company in Milltown has paid approximately $412 million for restoration and remediation projects in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin. (Chaney, 2009) (References)
b. Ratepayers would have to foot the bill for dam removal. The PUD has sought out agencies over the past two years to help share liability and cost of dam removal. No agency has stepped forward to accept the dam removal project. See letters from NOAA and BLM.
c. Removal consequences:
• Dam removal would require cooperation between the US and Canadian government as well as Washington State and the providence of British Columbia to deal with re-introduction of fish.
• The removal of Enloe Dam could subject the Okanogan County landowners north of the dam to Endangered Species Act (ESA of 1973) regulations.
Enloe Dam is a 50-year project and having price certainty over that time period has value. For example, at the time Wells Dam was built, the price for power from Wells Dam was over 2 times the cost of BPA power. Looking ahead to 2017, Wells Dam has some of the lowest cost power in the nation and is approximately half the cost of BPA power. This was due to a long-term vision of the project.
Electrifying Enloe Dam will provide clean, renewable, carbon-free and sustainable hydropower that will be used by and benefit the residents of Okanogan County. The District’s power portfolio is based on largely hydropower (from other sources), with the remainder being wind, nuclear and a small amount of other energy sources. Additionally, electrifying Enloe Dam will provide our residents with a locally generated portion of our energy requirements.
Hydropower project development is a highly specialized field which requires early contractor involvement to address constructability issues, develop practical construction plans and to address environmental plans and protection measures. The Design-Build process will enable the District to make better-informed decisions in finalizing the engineering design and implementation plan for the Enloe Dam Hydroelectric Project. Additionally, Design-Build offers greater innovation and efficiencies through value engineering with the design engineer, equipment supplier and construction contractor working as a team.
Enloe Dam is a non-carbon and renewable energy project. Solar and wind need hydropower as a backstop for when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining (including at night). The PUD was one of the first utilities to buy into a large-scale wind project, Nine Canyon near the Tri-Cities. The District was the largest shareholder of that project and is still a participant today.
The Enloe Dam FERC License requires the PUD to implement numerous measures including recreation, fish and wildlife enhancement, wetland mitigation, and cultural resource protection. These projects will be maintained over the life of the project.
Using the current market rates that are at historically low levels, the District estimates that the electrification of Enloe Dam will increase the cost of power by approximately six tenths (0.6) of a cent per kwh. As market prices return to normal levels and more value is placed on “green” energy, the impact to customers will only decrease. In addition, in 2023 the bonds will be paid off on the Nine Canyon Wind Project, which could potentially lead to a reduction in the PUD’s “Cost of Power Adjustment” (COPA) and a corresponding reduction in customer costs.
As a condition of the FERC license, the District will install and maintain perch poles in the reservoir. Standing dead and dying trees, “wildlife trees” or “snags,” provide key habitat for many species and contribute to the overall health of a diverse ecosystem. The District will retain all non-hazardous snags along the reservoir to provide essential wildlife habitat for the numerous species of bird and mammals that inhabit the Project Area. Where perch trees are sparse or lacking along the reservoir shoreline, the District will install and maintain ten artificial perch poles. For more information please refer to the Wildlife Management Plan.
The Enloe Project is projected to employ at least 20-25 percent of the personnel needed for the construction of the project from the local impacted area. In addition, the remainder of the construction personnel would temporarily relocate to the construction area, benefiting local businesses, retail and housing providers during the length of construction and compliance. The District believes that Enloe Dam hydropower will offer a clean renewable resource with significant untapped job-creating and environmental benefits.
The PUD could elect to spend additional money on recreation and fish projects outside of the Enloe project; however, they would be supported by rates, including possible increases. The District tries to keep rates as low as possible, so additional projects are not currently pursued. However, a significant portion of the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) power bill funds fish and wildlife projects outside of Okanogan County. Approximately 18.7% of BPA’s annual costs are dedicated to fish and wildlife projects, in addition to 6.5% due to lost power production and power replacement purchases, for a total of 25.2%. This equates to approximately $4.35 million dollars annually for District ratepayers.