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PacifiCorp extends discussions

Oregon-based PacifiCorp and state and federal agencies have agreed to extend talks over relicensing eight US hydroelectric power dams on the North Umpqua river. The negotiations, which began two years ago, have been extended until 15 December in the hope that an agreement can be reached. The 50-year licences for dam operation expired in 1997 and are being extended on an annual basis.

Some of the laws that have come into place since the dams were built in the 1940s are forcing the utility to negotiate ways to reduce the impact on salmon and steelhead before they can get a new federal operating licence. However, environmentalists have demanded that PacifiCorp remove the Soda Springs dam, the farthest downstream of the dams, to allow salmon and steelhead to reach 13km of spawning habitat on the North Umpqua.

The utility has maintained that the dam is vital to the efficient operation of the hydro power system.