June 12, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

California company expresses interest in Leaburg Dam

3 min read
A California company wrote: We think it makes sense to evaluate the economics of maintaining the project, making the improvements needed to keep it viable, and operating it in a public-private partnership, or alternatively, as a privately-held asset.

A private company in California says it wants to explore preserving Leaburg Dam and Lake. The two founding owners of Special Product Delivery LLC said their company focuses on environmental infrastructure development, the energy transition of the economy, and water and power.

After McKenzie resident Joe LeFleur accompanied a representative of SPD on a site visit, co-founder Paul Singarella wrote to EWEB: “SPD is interested in exploring the Leaburg Dam hydroelectric project with the intent of re-establishing power production.”

Instead of EWEB spending millions to decommission the dam, SPD would work with federal regulators to start generating power again.

But at its June 4 meeting, the EWEB board told staff: Don’t spend any time on it.

[00:00:47] Frank Lawson (EWEB general manager): I had one item this evening for commissioners. Just wanted to poll the commissioners regarding a particular letter that we received on May 23 from an individual regarding the potential proposal for sale of the Leaburg hydroelectric facility. It’s something that we could evaluate.

[00:01:09] I’ll make a couple of notes about that. First of all, as a FERC-regulated facility, there would be substantial regulatory requirements and processes associated with any transfer of ownership. As we do, if the board does provide some endorsement to evaluate certain proposals, we would do so in the context of the original principles associated with our Record of Decision, one example being to eliminate long-term risk, for example.

[00:01:40] Just wanted to highlight that we did receive that. Commissioners also received that letter. And get some kind of endorsement from the board and it could be, head nods would be appropriate, if the board would like us to do some high-level evaluation of proposals to what we received regarding the Leaburg project.

[00:02:06] John Brown (EWEB commissioner): I’d think it wouldn’t be a good use of staff time. I mean, if it doesn’t work for us, how is it going to work for a venture capital corporation? And they’re still going to have the stormwater management obligation to the community and whether or not that, I mean, if they defaulted, then who’s going to take care of the stormwater? And that’s a multimillion-dollar obligation.

[00:02:25] For me, I, you know, I think we’ve done the math, it doesn’t work. Regulations are there, and so I think it wouldn’t be, I mean, you guys have enough to do. I would not be in favor, considering that.

[00:02:37] John Barofsky (EWEB commissioner): And I could go either way. So it looks like we’ve got three for ‘No’. So that’s a ‘No.’

[00:02:45] Frank Lawson (EWEB general manager): ‘No.’ Thank you, commissioners.

[00:02:47] John Q: In its letter to EWEB, the company wrote: ‘We think it makes sense to evaluate the economics of maintaining the project, making the improvements needed to keep it viable, and operating it in a public-private partnership, or alternatively, as a privately-held asset.’

[00:03:02] They offered to complete a preliminary assessment, ‘if there is a willingness on the part of interested stakeholders, including the utility, to do so.’

[00:03:10] On June 4, the utility board was not willing to provide them with any help.

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