Bill Smith of William Smith Properties, Inc. and developer of the Old Mill District and President and CEO Todd Taylor of Taylor Northwest construction company have signed a purchase option to buy the land under Mirror Pond from the McKay family.
Smith said they do not see this as a money making deal, the intent is to make sure the pond is retained and not become a free-flowing river. Smith said: “Knowing that PRESERVING the Pond is THE objective will make the process easier and faster.”
Taylor added, “Mirror Pond is the beach front of Bend, Oregon, it is not an option but an obligation to preserve this iconic piece of Real Estate. Both Bill and I feel by working with the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation, Pacific Power and our community it will be achieved. The alternative of doing nothing is not an option, period.”
PacificCorp recently announced that it does not intend to fix the leaking 100-year-old hydroelectric dam that originally formed the pond. PacifiCorp released a statement stating: “It has determined that it would not be cost-effective for its customers to make the investments needed to continue long-term operations at the company’s Bend hydroelectric generating project.”
In response, the new partnership of Smith and Taylor has formed a holding company, Mirror Pond LLC with the intent of giving the land to whatever entity is selected to manage and preserve the dam. The damn is located near the Newport Avenue Bridge.
In addition to diverting water for PacificCorp’s hydroelectric project, the dam creates Mirror Pond on a section of the Deschutes River adjacent to downtown Bend.
Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources said, “The inspection confirmed what we expected; the dam remains safe and is in overall good condition for a 100-year-old facility, but further investment would be required for the hydro project to operate long-term.”
“After a century of producing clean, emission-free and affordable power for customers, it’s time to divest or retire our Bend hydroelectric plant,” Tallman said. “It simply isn’t cost-effective or in the best interests of all our customers throughout six western states for PacifiCorp to rebuild the facility and generate power to serve current and future generations of customers.”
“We’ve known and have been candid with the community that the facility was reaching the end of its useful life as a generating facility for PacifiCorp’s customers. That time is now here, accelerated by the recent new leak. This converges with public conversations and comparison of options the public has participated in,” said Pat Egan, PacifiCorp’s vice president for customer and community affairs.
The damn generates enough electricity to serve 300 to 400 homes. The company says it will pursue discussions with the Bend Parks and Recreation District and the City of Bend “to determine if an agreement can be reached that places the dam under local control in a way that PacifiCorp can also demonstrate to regulators that the outcome is in the best interest of PacifiCorp’s customers.”
“The company wants to be supportive of community efforts to preserve its vision for the future of Mirror Pond, as long as PacifiCorp can also meet its regulatory obligations,” said Egan.
“Among the various options we must responsibly explore, we are hopeful an agreement can be reached that allows this to happen and also protects the interest of our rate-paying customers in Bend and throughout our multi-state service area.”