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Lawsuit against PacifiCorp to face trial in Deschutes County

BEND  — The power company PacifiCorp is trying to get part of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over allegations that the company violated a 100-year lease agreement thrown out before the case heads to trial in December.

The lawsuit filed in July 2014 by the Central Oregon Irrigation District claims PacifiCorp polluted the Cline Falls hydroelectric plant near Redmond and failed to maintain the site, reported The Bend Bulletin.

Attorneys for PacifiCorp filed a motion in May, denying any responsibility for removing old buildings, two dams and other infrastructure. The motion claims the lease doesn't require the company to do so.

The 1913 lease was originally set up to allow for irrigation water to be delivered to a nearby 800-acre ranch while allowing for a hydroelectric plant operated by PacifiCorp's predecessor. In 1942, new equipment and buildings were constructed and the lease was amended.

The irrigation district is seeking millions of dollars in damages to get rid of the plant's remains and clean up alleged environmental contamination.

The civil complaint describes the dams, headgate, flume, powerhouse and other parts of the former plant as "useless, hazardous and dangerous."

"All of the structures at Cline Falls are in very poor condition and should be removed by PacifiCorp," Matthew Singer, an attorney for COID, said Monday.

A Deschutes County jury is set to decide whether PacifiCorp is at fault, and if so, how much the company will have to pay in damages. The 12-member jury will also have to decide if PacifiCorp should be held responsible for cleaning up contaminants at the site.

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Walter Miller is expected to rule on PacifiCorp's motion in the next few weeks.