FERC Attaches Conditions to SMUD Hydro Relicensing

By Published On: March 21, 2008

Mitigation measures attached to the re-licensing of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District’s 688 MW hydropower project will be sufficiently protective of the system, concluded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC’s final Environmental Impact Statement for the Upper American River hydro permit released March 17 found that the project would adequately protect fish and wildlife, water quality, and recreational resources, as well as provide renewable energy. The final EIS is very similar to the draft impact analysis, which largely reflected the settlement SMUD reached in February 2007. “We are generally pleased with the draft and final EIS,” said Dave Hanson, SMUD spokesperson. After a six-year battle with state and federal agencies, environment and recreational advocates, the muni agreed to higher and more predictable water releases from its dam during the summer months. The river is a popular recreational area. SMUD’s re-licensing also involves the construction of a 400 MW pumped storage facility, the Iowa Hill development. The re-licensing will include mandatory conditions, including payments to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The project affects 6,375 acres of Forest Service land and 42 acres of BLM property. The 50-year hydro license expired last July year but FERC extended it for another year. Pacific Gas & Electric, which has a hydro project on the river, also submitted a re-licensing application. FERC gave it the green light too, noting that both permits should involve the development of a comprehensive plan “for the proper use, conservation, and development,” of the American River.

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