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Holding 33.33% ownership since 2001, Tribes purchased an additional 16.66%

PMG PHOTO: PAT KRUIS - Jim Manion, general manager of Warm Springs Power and Water Enterprises, has worked for the CTWS interests in the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project for forty years. He sees this purchase as a big development for the Tribes.

The dawn of the year opened new opportunity for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The Tribes purchased additional shares of the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project, increasing their share from 33.33% to 49.99%

"This is big," said Jim Manion, general manager of Warm Springs Power and Water Enterprises. "It's a large investment, no question."

CTWS shares ownership of the project with Portland General Electric.

"This agreement is a testament to our close partnership and shared commitment to the Deschutes River Basin," said Maria Pope, president, and CEO of PGE.

The Tribes purchased the shares at net book value. Both sides hold terms such as price and conditions of the purchase confidential.

"It's worth it on a couple of fronts," said Manion. "Basically, it allows us to sit at the table as a co-owner in an asset that impacts one of our first foods."

Salmon has spiritual, cultural and subsistence significance for the Warm Springs tribes.

"Gifts from the Creator come in many forms, but in the food form, it comes as fish as we were fish people," said Manion. "It was not only one of our first foods, it was a commodity used in trading for other meats and so it's always been regarded that the first foods are a priority to respect, manage, and preserve for future generations."

Since the Pelton Dam was built in 1958 and the Round Butte Dam in 1964, the tribes saw a decline in their fisheries.

PMG PHOTO: PAT KRUIS - Since 2001 Portland General Electric has shared ownership of the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. This month the Tribes bought more shares upping their interest in the dam from 33.33% to 49.99%.

For more than 40 years, CTWS and PGE worked together on environmental goals, including the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead runs to the Deschutes River.

Their relationship took a critical change in 2001 when the Tribal Council took part ownership in the hydroelectric project to gain more influence in decisions about managing the dam.

"As opposed to just the landlord saying, 'Hey, we think you guys should be working on this,'" said Manion. "We want to take an ownership role in recognizing what those impacts were and helping design solutions too," said Manion.

Manion says the partnership with PGE has brought many successes improving habitat for salmon.

"Oh, definitely," said Manion. "There's no question in my mind that the partnership working together is much more productive than it would have been otherwise had we not done it this way."

As co-owners, the Tribes share the risks along with the benefits of decisions they make.

"Between PGE and the Tribes we invested more than $100 million dollars into reintroduction of fish above the project," said Manion. "That was a big investment that had a lot of risk because there are still uncertainties whether or not this would be successful."

The financial benefits of the new purchase will increase substantially under the new arrangement.

"We basically are increasing our energy output by one sixth," says Manion. "Subsequently that more energy to sell is going to equate to more economic benefit for the tribe."

PGE operates as a utility, selling power to its customers. CTWS operates as a wholesaler and is sole owner of the reregulating dam in the project. This allows the tribes to sell power during high demand periods when the power provides more revenue.

Income from the project provides a substantial portion of total revenues for the Tribe, up to half of its income depending on profits from other tribal enterprises. The tribes will notice the increase.

"We don't have a revenue stream coming in from property tax and income tax," said Manion, "those kinds of things that fund most municipal governments."

"PGE is honored to continue working together with the tribes in Central Oregon for years to come," says Pope.

In 2036, the CTWS has the option to purchase more shares giving the tribes 51% ownership, or controlling interest in the project. Manion says that's a long way off, too early to know whether that decision would make sense for the Tribe.


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