Barber Dam

Barber Dam

On Tuesday, the Ada County Board of Commissioners moved the Barber Dam auction one step further — setting a $1 million minimum bid and other terms of a sale.

The three commissioners voted unanimously to have their legal department write a notice to the public describing the terms of the potential sale, including a $1 million minimum bid and requirements that the buyer have $100,000 in auction insurance and show proof they can own and operate the dam under guidelines established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“This has been an opportunity and challenge for us over the years,” Commissioner Diana Lachiondo said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re being cognizant about our core functions, and running a dam is not necessarily one of them.”

Tuesday’s decision is a follow-up to another unanimous vote in December that began the process of selling the dam and some parcels around it. The dam is three miles east of downtown Boise and provides hydroelectric power to Idaho Power, according to Ada County spokesperson Elizabeth Duncan.

The reason the county owns the dam in the first place is due to the previous owner failing to pay property taxes on the site, which caused the dam to fall into county hands.

Owned by Ada County since 1977 and operated by Enel Green Power, the dam has had problems over the last few years. Power outages at the site have disrupted or stopped the flow of water into the Boise River below the dam on multiple occasions, according to reporting done by the Boise Weekly. The Idaho Department of Water Resources fined Ada County $50,000 last summer and ordered fixes after a power failure at Barber Dam cut off the entire flow of the Boise River in the early morning hours of Aug. 2.

The county is under no obligation to sell the dam, but the commission is hopeful potential buyers might step up to the plate.

“We’re looking forward to seeing who comes out,” Lachiondo said.

The entirety of the complex surrounding Barber Dam will not be sold. The commission withheld areas that are integral to the Boise River Greenbelt from the potential sale.

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