Yakama Nation assumes sole ownership of Yakama Hydroelectric Project

TOPPENISH, Wash., Jan. 2, 2002 – The Yakama Nation announced today that it has assumed sole ownership of the Yakama Hydroelectric Project, LLC.

Yakama Hydroelectric is preparing a competing license application to operate Wanapum and Priest Rapids Dams. The federal license on the dams expires in 2005. The two dams are located in the heart of the Yakama Ceded Area and have severely affected the salmon that migrate to the Yakama’s homeland.

The competing license effort originally involved the Yakama Nation and PacifiCorp, a Portland based investor owned utility. PacifiCorp recently decided to renew its contract with Grant County PUD, the current license holder. Grant County has required utilities to sign a “non-compete clause” that bars any utility that signs a Grant power sales contract to also participate in a competing license application in any way.

“The Yakama Nation took on the relicensing effort because of our long standing commitment to the sacred principles of protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of life. We remain committed to our original goal of filing a competing license application that will expand the benefits from these projects and restore our salmon runs,” said Lonnie Selam the Chairman of the Yakama Tribal Council. “The Yakama Nation has assembled an excellent team of experts for this project. The quality of the Initial Consultation Document speaks for itself.”

Ross Sockzehigh, the chairman of the Yakama Nation Economic Development Committee said, “We are making immediate plans to continue with the license application. The Initial Consultation Document is a wonderful expression of the Yakama Nation’s vision of stewardship. It strikes a balance between protecting the environment and stimulating the economy. We have a wonderful blend of scientific management and tribal culture to meet the needs of all citizens of the Columbia River Basin.”

In October, Yakama Hydroelectric issued an Initial Consultation Document that identified the issues that need to be addressed in the competing license application and proposed a number of initiatives to expand economic benefits, improve recreation, and protect salmon and cultural resources. The documents can be found at www.yakamahydroproject.com. Comments on the Initial Consultation Document are due in February.

Yakama Hydroelectric believes it is possible to respectfully use the power from the Columbia River to produce electricity and still be good stewards of the ecosystems that sustain life and well-being in the Pacific Northwest.

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