August 15, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Bowman hydropower proposal moves ahead

Aug 31, 2010

August 15, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Bowman hydropower proposal moves ahead

Bowman hydropower proposal moves ahead; ‘Wild and Scenic’ hurdle remains

By Lauren Dake / The Bulletin
Published: August 15. 2010 4:00AM PST

Portland General Electric would like the public’s input as it prepares an application to build a hydropower facility at Bowman Dam near Prineville.

The power company expressed interest in the site more than a year ago but faces one main hurdle: The area is currently protected by the federal Wild and Scenic River designation.

The power plant would be the power company’s smallest, but could produce enough electricity to power about 4,500 homes. “It’s an attractive project,” said Steve Corson, a spokesman for Portland General Electric. “It’s something that would provide a source of renewable energy, and something we think would be beneficial for customers and fit in well with the existing uses of the dam.”

Corson said the company is working with local irrigation districts and wildlife officials on the project. He said the hydropower project would not impact the flow or temperature of the river. The site is ideal because there is good access to a transmission line and a predictable water flow.

“It seems like a good fit, one that is beneficial for the region and our customers,” he said. “There really is no downside.”

Community members will have a chance to say whether they agree with Corson this Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Crook County Library in Prineville.

Corson said the meeting will be informal and is not required as part of the licensing application, but the power company wants to have the public’s input as it starts to move forward with its application.

The Wild and Scenic River designation for the Crooked River is right in the middle of the dam. The Federal Power Act prevents any development of hydropower in national parks and Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Celeste Miller, a spokeswoman with the Federal Energy Regulatory Council, said Portland General Electric applied for a preliminary license to build on the dam, but it was rejected because of the designation, she said.

Crook County Judge Mike McCabe said he’s excited about the project and hopes it brings some construction jobs to the county.

“We think they are good neighbors, and they are going to try and figure out a way to contribute to the county and city,” McCabe said. “I don’t know what that looks like yet, but we’ve been working with them for many, many months, and they’ve been great to work with.”

Corson said there is no specific timeline, and he’s not sure when the company will hear about any change in designation.

“The Wild and Scenic designation literally runs down a line across the middle of the dam and on the face of it, it doesn’t seem all that meaningful, since it’s a dam,” Corson said. “It seems like a reasonable thing to move the line.

We have asked for about a quarter of a mile move to allow us to add a hydro facility to the dam.”

Lauren Dake can be reached at 541-419-8074 or at ldake@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010

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