Rural Preservation
Citizens Struggles

Cogentrix : A Lost Cause in Central Oregon

by Mary Zemke
Founder of STOP Cogentrix

The Crooked River. Photo by Mike Volk

What started as a small trickle of opposition to the proposed Cogentrix power plant has now exploded into thousands of Central Oregonians taking a firm stance against the Grizzly Power Project. The threat of Duke Energy and several other large power companies who are eyeing our area and resources for their corporate gain has added impetus to the determination to not allow even one gas-fired power plant into the region.

This past month, researchers have discovered that Cogentrix knowingly placed their well field within a quarter mile of sensitive Golden Eagle nesting habitat and actually did the well drilling during the nesting cycle for the birds, violating Jefferson County Zoning Ordinances. In addition, the well field is located within the Wild and Scenic Corridor of the Crooked River, an area restricted from development.

Cogentrix, which still has not obtained any of their permits, is awaiting the outcome of the water mitigation rules now being presented for public comment. While the new set of draft rules prohibit large water users from mitigating with money (which we are pleased about), there is still no protection for the aquifer, and the technical aspects of the actual mitigation seem shaky.

To be very blunt, the big problem with mitigation is that it cannot create more water. Therefore, granting new water rights in the Deschutes Basin where all surface water is already appropriated and the groundwater feeds the stream flow, means that someone is not going to get their share of water. We have regular drought cycles in our area; what will be the effect during the next drought if we over-appropriate the water now? Remember, the purpose of mitigation is to make up for damage done in one area by doing something nice in another area, which will not be very comforting if it is your well that goes dry.

STOP Cogentrix will have a comment sheet available to assist you in writing letters to the WRD. You can receive this sheet via email by requesting them from or by calling the Hotline at (541) 475-4446.

Attend the Water Resources Department Public Hearing on April 22, 7:00 p.m. in Bend at Hollinshead Barn, 1237 NE Jones Road. The Water Resources Department is very attentive to public input and has made changes to the mitigation rules based on public response in the past.

This is the time for all of us to speak up to protect Central Oregon! Duke Energy, Calpine, and several other power companies are nosing around our little paradise at this moment. Check out areas that have high concentrations of power plants, note the effects of the acid rain on people and vegetation, the ruination of water tables that were supposed to be "limitless", and the reduction in quality of life from air emissions and visibility impacts of these monstrous plants.

What we have here is worthy of our best efforts.

Stop Cogentrix by Mary Zemke for more details.

Pasture land for a proposed power plant in Coburg, Oregon.
Photo by Guy Weese

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© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.

West by Northwest
Spencer Creek Press
PO Box 51251
Eugene OR 97405

West By Northwest

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