New book on local earthquake
The Earthquake of 1872 rattled and rolled between Lake Chelan and the Similkameen, and into the Fraser, for several years. Felt by most inhabitants of the region, one closest to the quake zone reported that “Many small fissures, [were] felt for several years in the surrounding mountains.”
The huge Quake, described in a new book by Spokane author Jack Nisbet, recounts the event as reported by the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), which commissioned the geologic report in preparation for selecting a site for a nuclear power plant on the Columbia.
Nisbet’s colorful and story-filled language takes one on a visit to Earthquake Point, at Entiat, just north of Lake Chelan, where the steep Ribbon Cliff landslide blocked the flow of the Columbia for five hours. Local folks were terrified and many never returned to their campsites on the Columbia.
The 1872 Earthquake description forms Chapter 10 of Jack Nisbet’s new book: Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest, Sasquatch Books. Seattle.
Enloe Dam doubles power bills
At this time of politics gone wild, let’s turn our attention to a significant local issue that we actually have the power to control: Enloe Dam. I’m amazed how the desire to “have our own dam” has become more important than the simple facts.
Over the past 10 years the Okanogan PUD has spent countless hours and approximately $14 million to resurrect Enloe Dam. The PUD plans to spend $40 to $45 million more to get the dam to produce electricity. After all that, the dam will have a maximum generating capacity of only 9 megawatts (MW). The average capacity is projected to be a meager 4.5 MW.
Apparently other power companies realized that Enloe Dam is a losing proposition. When it sought bids to design, build and operate the powerhouse the PUD received no acceptable proposals. PUD Commissioners traveled to meet with representatives of power companies to promote the reenergizing of Enloe Dam. No companies were convinced of the merits of the project. More recently Energy Northwest considered Enloe Dam. They concluded that our PUD’s cost estimate of $40 million could be 40 percent low. If Energy Northwest is correct, then the cost of Enloe Dam power to Okanogan County residents would be 12.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Our current rate is 4.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
Enloe Dam was built during the early 1920’s. Once large hydro projects were constructed along the Columbia River and power cost less, Enloe Dam became uneconomical to operate. Now, with the advent of wind and solar generation as well as upgrades to existing facilities, the potential power generated at Enloe Dam ranges from insignificant to a costly liability. For example, the turbine and generator upgrades at the third powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam will result in an additional 250 MW of generating capacity (above and beyond Grand Coulee’s existing capacity of 6,089 MW.) That power is available at less than half the cost of Enloe power and with no additional operating cost, construction cost and environmental liability.
Guess who will pay to keep this outdated dam operational. The price of power generated from Enloe Dam will not be competitive on the open market. The construction costs and the nearly $1 million annual operating costs will fall upon the shoulders and reach deep into the wallets of the people of Okanogan County.
The value of Enloe’s power production was determined to be zero in 1959 when the dam was decommissioned. The value today and in the future is even less. As responsible public servants, the Okanogan PUD commissioners owe it to Okanogan County residents and rate payers to drop this costly boondoggle.
Emperor Enloe wears no clothes
The electrification of Enloe Dam is the biggest blunder in the 67-year history of our Okanogan County Public Utility District. The millions of dollars already wasted down the “we need our own powerhouse drain” since the 1980’s is staggering. The total is now well over $20 million. The equivalent of $12,000 drained from each household in the utility district. The PUD plans for construction of a new powerhouse at Enloe Dam will cost each ratepayer household an additional $10-20 dollars per month for the next 30 years.
Consultants, engineers, lawyers and lobbyists have pocketed millions, taking this foolish notion of affordable electricity from the Similkameen River all the way to the bank. While our commissioners are dreaming about how great project this is, ratepayers are being taken for a ride. Funds that should have been spent on upgrading our poles, wires, transformers and sub-stations have been wasted The $40-50 million required to energize Enloe will create nothing but debt for us.
I am reminded of the children’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The commissioners want a shiny new powerhouse just like the Emperor wanted a suit of new clothes to impress his loyal subjects. The consultants, engineers, bankers and Okanogan PUD staff say it will be fabulous just like the suit sewing tailors in the fable. The PUD is as blind as the “Emperor.” The Similkameen River is not suitable for the generation of affordable electric energy. That is why the powerhouse was shut down in 1958 and remained idle all these years. The power produced at Enloe Dam would be insignificant when compared with the already available power generated on the Columbia River. The power generated at Enloe Dam will cost the Utility $1-2 million in annual loses, producing power at three to four times the cost of power on the wholesale market. If the PUD continues forward we could all be standing naked, embarrassed and feeling the chill just like Emperor who wore no clothes.
Donate to Christmas Light Fund
Our Christmas poinsettias are hanging above Main Street in Oroville, and half of them are lit with LED lights, thanks to community donations, Oroville Streetscape and the City of Oroville.
As a result of the bulb replacement, we now have hundreds of white and green incandescent C7 light bulbs for sale, at $1 per bag of 25 bulbs. All money raised will go to the city’s Christmas light fund to help fund LED replacement bulbs for the remaining poinsettias.
If you wish to help fund this project, you can donate to: The City of Oroville, Christmas Light Fund, or to Oroville Streetscape, Christmas lights, P.O.Box 299, Oroville, WA 98844.
If you wish to purchase C7 incandescent white or green bulbs, contact me at 509-476-4626.
Always been a connection to home
I’ve always felt a special connection to the Gazette-Tribune. No matter where I hang my hat each night, my hometown will always be Oroville and a small part of what has kept that connection alive through the years has been reading Grandma (This & That) and Grandpa (News From the Past) Emry’s columns each week in the newspaper.
Thanks to the community for putting up with countless mentions of this kid (and now my kids) in Grandma’s columns. Thanks to the readers who have shared well-deserved kind words with the Emrys through the years. And if you’re like me, if you haven’t said it as often as you’ve thought it, be sure to pass on a heartfelt thanks for their efforts when your paths cross again.