Clackamas County news. (Estacada, Or.) 1928-1957, March 16, 1956, Image 4

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    The People of Oregon
have a stake in the Pelton Project
you have a right to
k the ivhole story
M en
and machines are commencing
construction of an important new hydro­
electric power source for ( )regon: Pelton
dam on the Deschutes riser.
Pelton is important to the people of
Oregon. Its 120,000 kilowatts of capa­
bility w ill make it one of the largest
hydroelectric projects within the bound­
aries of the state. It is important because
it w ill provide power for new jobs as
our population increases and w ill be a
Jong step in meeting the growing elec­
trical needs of you and your neighbors
at home, on the farm, in business and in
industry. In common with just about
every hydroelectric project which has
been proposed to meet the power needs
of the Pacific Northwest, Pelton has a
controversy attached to it. You have a
right to know what the controversy
is about.
O pposition to Pelton a M ix ture o f
P o litica l Id eo lo gy a n d Fish
We believe that behind the opposi­
tion to Pelton dam- which dates back
to 1949 when Portland General Electric
Company took its first steps to have the project ap­
proved by the state of Oregon and the federal govern­
ment— is a small, well-organized minority. Their
motives are mixed.
One segment of this minority consists of those who
are politically slanted against the development of any
power project by private capital, just as they are
opposed to the Eisenhower administration “ partner­
ship" policy of water resource development. In its con­
sistent opposition to any project proposed by local
agencies, this group had evidenced its preference for
dependence on the federal government for hydroelectric
There has also been opposition arising from a con­
flicting economic interest represented by commercial
and sports fishermen. They have—mistakenly we think
—viewed the Pelton project as a threat to salmon and
steelhead runs in the Deschutes river. Actually, the run
of salmon in the stretch of the Deschutes where Pelton
dam w ill be built is negligible. Moderate steelhead runs
exist but neither the salmon nor steelhead runs were
considered sufficiently important by the Oregon legis­
lature in 1949 to approve legislation which would have
made fish sanctuaries of the Deschutes and Metolius
rivers. Nevertheless, the opposition of sport and com­
mercial fishermen has continued to be aggressive.
This well-organized coalition of forces has made its
opposition felt every step of the way in the company’s
long effort to obtain approvals for the project from state
and federal agencies.
We Can H are B oth P ow er P oles a n d F ishing Poles
Portland General Electric Company is firmly of the
opinion that from the standpoint of the great majority
of Oregon people the fishing and recreational value of
this stretch of the Deschutes w ill be greatly enhanced
by Pelton dam. This belief is based on past experience
with projects of similar size built on similar streams
elsewhere in Oregon the Willamette Basin projects
being notable examples. These have provided enjoyment
for thousands.
A re-regulating dam w ill be built about three river
miles downstream from Pelton, in order to maintain an
even, natural flow of the lower river. Thus, one hundred
miles of swift fishing water w ill be left undisturbed
below the Pelton project which is located that distance
from the mouth of the Deschutes. The company also
plans to provide public access to the eight-mile-long
lake to be created, behind the dam. To enhance the
enjoyment of boat fishermen and recreationists PGE
w ill provide an access road into the reservoir area, boat
dock and trailer ramp, and picnic grounds
It is significant that the people in the vicinity of the
project, who know the actual conditions best, view
Pelton as a potentials great tourist attraction and
recreational asset.
The Oregon State Game Commission, the Fish Com­
mission of Oregon and the l T. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service jointly have expressed the view that passage
facilities which would lead both upstream and down­
stream salmon and steelhead migrants past the Pelton
project appear to offer the most likely solution to the
fishery problem. These three agencies recently have
asked that PGE assume responsibility for designing
such facilities, with technical assistance to be supplied
by the agencies themselves. The facilities w ill essentially
consist of a fish ladder approximately three miles long,
having gradients comparable to or iess steep than the
successful ladders at Bonneville dam and other large
projects. Appropriate attraction facilities w ill be in­
stalled at both the upstream and downstream ends of
the ladder. We are hopeful that these designs w ill be
perfected in sufficient detail within the near future so
that they can be completely and publicly described.
Altogether, these fish facilities, including the re­
regulating dam, w ill represent $5,000,000 of the total
$25,000,000 cost of the project.
O regon N eeds a Firm Supply o f P ow er
f o r Job s, f o r C on tin u ed G row th
As an electric utility serving forty per cent of the
people of Oregon, PGE has a serious responsibility to
provide electric service in sufficient quantities, and at
the lowest possible cost. At the present we are inter­
ested, by ourselves or jointly with other organizations,
in the development of such projects as the North Fork
dam and Faraday addition on the Clackamas river,
John Day dam on the Columbia, Mountain Sheep and
Pleasant Valley dams on the middle Snake, Priest Rapids
dam on the Columbia and others. But none of these
projects are alternatives to Pelton simply because a
readv demand w ill exist for every single kilowatt that
can be produced by these projects and by Pelton as well.
Further, Peltcn is the only one of these projects which
has a clear “ go-ahead” for construction.
Oregon is growing. Even more rapidly the uses of
electricity are growing. As a public servant PGE has
no alternative but to provide you with an adequate
supply of this vital necessity.
T he P eople Not R epresen ted by Fish A gencies
It was in January, 1949, that an application for pre-
liminarv permit was first made w ith the Oregon Hvuro-
electric Commission, and in May of the same vear the
application for license was filed with the Federal Power
Commission, assuming that the two licensing authori­
ties had a concurrent jurisdiction over such a stream as
the Deschutes.
At the time it was generally assumed that tne Oregon
Hydroelectric Commission was a bodv with full author­
in' to weigh the relative importance of the various uses
to which a water resource such as the Deschutes river
may be put, and to act in behalf of a ll the people of the
state in achieving maximum multiple use of the resource.
But the com pans. and Oregon citizens as well, were
surprised and dismayed to discover that two single
interest agencies of the state of Oregon, representing only
the commercial and sport fisheries, had
an absolute veto over any proposed
power development placed for consid­
eration before the Hydroelectric Com­
mission. These agencies were the Oregon
State Game Commission and the Pish
Commission of Oregon. In July, 1949,
the Hydroelectric Commission issued an
order requiring that an application for
permit be made to the Fish Commission
of Oregon. Such application was made
and summarily denied by the Fish Com­
mission without a hearing. The Attor­
ney General of Oregon had ruled that
the Fish Commission would have to be
satisfied with facilities designed for the
protection of fish before the Hydro­
electric Commission could grant a per­
mit. Later a decision of the circuit
court confirmed this ruling and further
found that under the act there was no
right of appeal from the Hydroelectric
Commission’s ruling.
In the 1955 legislative session, too
late to be of benefit in the Pelton con­
troversy, legislation was passed which
establishes more equitable jurisdiction
which w ill take into consideration all the uses of a water
resource. The 1955 legislation establishes a water resources
commission, which in effect w ill be a board of appeal.
PGE a B ysta n d er as Fish a n d G am e Com missions
B rin g S uit A gainst FPC
The Federal Power Commission did grant the com­
pany a license, and in doing so asserted its jurisdiction
over the federally-owned lands on which it was proposed
that the dam be constructed. On the east bank of the
river these lands had been specifically reserved from
private entry by President Theodore Roosevelt, and
subsequently by Congress, as sites suitable for electric
power development. On the west bank the lands were
held by the Warm Springs Confederated Tribes as part
of a federal reservation.
The state of Oregon, through the fish and game
agencies mentioned, and strongly backed bv commercial
and sport fishing organizations, attacked the Pelton
license in the U. S. Court of Appeals, a proceeding
which was eventually taken to the highest legal author­
ity in the land—the U. S. Supreme Court. The latter, in
a seven-to-one decision on June 6, 1955, reversed the
twro-to-one decision of the Court of Appeals and upheld
the superior jurisdiction of the FPC confirming the
validity of the Pelton license.
It should be emphasized that PGE did not initiate
the court proceeding which ended in this nearly unani­
mous decision of the Supreme Court Justices—a decision
which established the paramount authority of the fed­
eral government to license power projects on federally-
owned and reserved lands.
C onservation Is th e Wise Use o f Resources
There are those who believe that “ conservation”
means leaving natural resources in their natural state.
Following this definition to its logical conclusion, there
would have been little progress in this state or this
region, so blessed with natural resources, of which
falling water is the greatest.
Constriction of the Pelton project w ill create a
reservoir which w ill change the character of only a few
miles of the Deschutes river. We believe sincerely that
this reservoir w ill add to the state’s fishing and recrea­
tional facilities and w ill provide enjoyment for thou­
sands more people than are now able to fish in the
rugged, alm ost inaccessible canyon. We are joined in
this belief by folks who have lived their lives along this
stretch of the river and who know it best.
We believe that the facilities designed for the up­
stream and downstream passing of anadromous fish
w ill prove to be a unique and exciting contribution to
the solution of the fish vs. power controversy that has
plagued and badgered the economic progress of the
Pacific Northwest for so long.
Above all, we believe that the people of Oregon
deserve to have the word “ conservation” mean the
wist use of resources for the benefit of all the people.
Oregon’s Pioneer Electric Utility