Not worth it
This February, the Okanogan County PUD had to purchase an additional $1 million in electricity to meet the near-record, 189-megawatt load demanded by the unseasonably cold weather across the district.
Stream flows in the Similkameen River averaged just under 800 cubic feet per second (cfs) for the month. If the PUD’s proposed $50 million powerhouse was built at Enloe Dam, the electricity generated by the Similkameen’s 800 cfs flow would have powered only one of the two 4.5-megawatt turbine generators proposed, producing four megawatts of power. That represents just 2 percent of the 189 megawatts we consumed across the utility district in February. It is just four of the 28 megawatts required by the Oroville substation.
At a PUD meeting on Feb. 24, Dale Bambrick of National Marine Fisheries Service told the commissioners the Upper Similkameen could be the “crown jewel “of steelhead recovery in the Upper Columbia Basin. He added that $10 million to $20 million annually could be available for this effort, mostly coming from Mid-Columbia Utilities, mandated by law to put funds aside for these purposes. Bureau of Land Management representatives at the meeting affirmed the PUD will not be held responsible for sediment or dam removal if they walk away from the project.
The PUD is $40 million in debt already. The Enloe power plant plan doubles our debt to $90 million, produces $1.5 million dollars in additional debt annually and tragically blocks the restoration of the Similkameen for the next 50 years. Economic activity from restoring the river will be greater and sustained longer than the two- to three-year power plant building project proposed. A wild, scenic Similkameen will draw visitors to fish, paddle, bike, hike, camp and photograph the watershed on our scenic roadways and take in our great views. If you agree, let your commissioners know your feelings now. The decision will be made this month.
Joseph Enzensperger, Oroville
Yes on the rec district
The proposed Methow Valley Recreation District would give us a great way to prioritize and fund local recreation and would provide benefits to our community that are well worth the small investment required. It will not interfere in any way with the ability of other entities to participate in funding our local recreation.
The opponents suggest that a better alternative would be a rec district formed under a different statute (RCW 36.69), or simply relying on the county to provide our recreational facilities and services.
A rec district formed under RCW 36.69 would have less funding stability and flexibility than the proposed district. It would also have less local control.
Relying on the county to fund our recreational needs amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. Yes, the county has a recreation plan, but it has been and remains only a wish list that lacks attention and funding.
The proposed rec district would have the same public oversight and voter accountability as the county or a rec district formed under RCW 36.69.
The county has the power of eminent domain. Both the proposed and the alternative rec districts would also have that power. But, eminent domain would never be used by the proposed rec district since it would only be a funding mechanism and wouldn’t ever acquire property.
Please vote for the rec district. And, please also vote for the Friends of the Recreation District candidates. They support the creation and purpose of the district. The other candidates do not.
Paul Sisson, Winthrop