On Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ruled in favor of PGE and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in a lawsuit alleging water quality violations at the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. The suit was filed against PGE in 2016 by the Deschutes River Alliance. The judge granted our request for summary judgement and dismissed the case, finding that the undisputed evidence did not support the plaintiff's allegations that the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project was operating in violation of the conditions of its water quality certification from DEQ.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality had also filed a statement affirming that PGE and the Tribes are meeting the appropriate requirements. While there have been various procedural and jurisdictional motions filed as this suit has progressed, the arguments for summary judgement were the first opportunity PGE and the Tribes had to argue the substance of the case.
We believe strongly that PGE and the Tribes, as co-owners of the project, are fully in compliance with our license and water quality certificates on the Deschutes. In our request for summary judgement, we demonstrated the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were simply wrong. To make their case, they applied the wrong standard or ignored certification requirements that are intended to achieve the best possible balance of water quality and fish passage (or both).
Above and beyond compliance, we’re proud of the work our fisheries and water quality team are doing in the Deschutes Basin. We’re collaborating with dozens of state, federal, tribal, and non-governmental partner organizations who share our commitment to bringing back wild, sustainable, harvestable runs of salmon and steelhead and more natural conditions in the river, both above and below our project. While there are areas of concern, which our biologists and others are studying to see if improvements can be made, we're also seeing exciting progress toward our long-term goals, and still generating enough clean, renewable hydropower to serve a city the size of Salem.
The Deschutes River Alliance appealed Judge Simon's decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to hear oral arguments on the case in 2021. Briefs filed by PGE and the Tribes as part of the appeals process are posted below.
Learn more about the work PGE and the Tribes are doing to support a healthy river and healthy fish.