Dams to be Removed in CA, OR
Late last month, Kiewit Infrastructure West won the design-build contract for the removal of four dams, located in California and Oregon, along the Klamath River. Department of the Interior officials spoke out Monday (May 20) about having a neutral stance on the dam removal.
The removal of the hydroelectric dams, currently estimated at $400 million, will allow the body of water to flow freely. Fish passage will also be restored. Currently, Kiewit is working from an $18.1-million preliminary services award, and will announce a final project cost in January.
According to the Engineering News-Record, the project, being completed for Klamath River Renewal Corp., is a record-size venture in the U.S. KRRC spokesperson Matt Cox called the dam removal the largest in the country’s history.
The J.C. Boyle dam, located in Oregon, and dams Copco I, Copco II and Iron Gate, located in California, were all built between 1918 and 1962. Collectively, the dams can generate up to 43 MW of hydroelectric power.
Kiewit, which won the contract over Granite Construction and Barnard Construction, was chosen using a stepped design-build plan—one that implements a selection process based on working toward a design/contract price.
Design and permitting support, among other responsibilities, are part of the first phase of work, to be followed by final design and construction, as well as land restoration, in the second phase. Moving forward, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission needs to see that the KRRC has the capacity to do the work by submitting plans to the federal agency. Following that, FERC must approve transferring the dam’s license from utility owner PacifiCorp to the KRRC.
“Selecting Kiewit marks another key achievement and brings KRRC closer to completing the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history. This contract will help demonstrate KRRC’s capacity to undertake the project consistent with a license transfer application pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” said Mark Bransom, KRRC Chief Executive Officer.
“Once implemented, the project will help restore the vitality of the Klamath River so that it can support all communities in the basin.”
The saga of the dam removal dates back to 2004, when PacifiCorp wanted to relicense the dams before transferring ownership. A 2016 utility agreement with regulators and stakeholders from both states regarding environmental conditions prompted the dam removal. Kiewit is to submit a Guaranteed Maximum Price by January 2020.
Department of the Interior Stance
Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt recently wrote to FERC that a letter written by former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell did not fall within the purview of the Department of the Interior.
The communication in question—a three-page letterr that dates to October 2016—was to Katherine Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner. In the letter, Jewell emphasized support for the applications to take down the dams.
“We have consistently emphasized that Interior has no position, nor any decision point in regards to dam removal,” Mikkelsen said in an email to the Herald and News.