PUD still treading water on Similkameen, Enloe Dam

PUD asks FERC for two week extension on dam decision

The Okanogan County Public Utility District #1 (PUD) Feb. 23 meeting saw options still being weighed regarding the fate of Enloe Dam. Commissioner John Houston reported being in contact with a Washington, DC law firm to have a letter drafted requesting an extension on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to begin construction on the Enloe Dam Hydroelectric Project. The current deadline for the PUD to begin construction is July 1, 2015.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Derek Sandison of the DOE’s Office of Columbia River, Rich Bowers of HydroReform, Lisa Pelly with Trout Unlimited’s Washington Water Project, Thomas O’Keefe of American Whitewater, Michael Garrity with American Rivers, Chris Fisher with the Colville Tribes Department of Fish and Wildlife, the PUD’s General Manager John Grubich and PUD Commissioners Scott Vejraska and Steve Houston is being scheduled for early March.

The meeting was originally set for 11 AM on March 9, but that date conflicts with the schedules of several of the interested parties, with the PUD Commissioners’ regular meeting scheduled for 2:30 PM March 9.

“We’ve got to start somewhere, so we’re starting somewhere,” said Becky Zahler, Sandison’s Administrative Assistant in charge of setting up the meeting. “There’s only so much time, and they need to meet sooner than later, so we are going ahead with the March 9 date, even though four of the people won’t be able to make it due to busy schedules.” Zahler said the meeting would take place in either Okanogan or Wenatchee. “Unless something changes between now and then, it will be held on the 9th. They did want a starting point, and that’s the best we can do. Those who can will make it, and if they need to meet again in the future they can.”

Fisher said he expected the meeting to be an information exchange to keep PUD Commissioners appraised of alternative opportunities and funding sources that exist regarding Enloe Dam, one example being the DOE potentially purchasing non-consumptive water rights.

Commissioners Houston and Ernest Bolz agreed with the recommendations of Grubich to discontinue the portion of the Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program which gives consumers interested in supporting the program the opportunity to donate to alternative energy producers. The program was scheduled to end April 1, and it was decided the estimated annual cost to administer the program outweighed the benefits. SNAP began back in 2004 with one producer generating 2171 kilowatt-hour, and has grown over the last 10 years to about 30 alternate energy providers producing 180,000 kilowatt hours. Seventeen county customers donated a total of $2800 last year, but the program is reported to cost about $8,000 to run.

“In 2004 we spent more in advertising than we collected from the program,” reported Don Coppock, Director of Accounting, Finance and Administration.

See related article: Fate of Enloe still unknown