The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's relicensing proposal to lessen summer flows in the Upper American River was met by a barrage of outrage from members of the public August 3. Thirty-five speakers from the outdoor recreation and environmental communities urged the muni's board to drop its objections to the flow release regime in the alternative relicensing plan for its power projects in the Upper American River - a highly popular boating and recreational region. Many of the speakers said Pacific Gas & Electric had a superior environmental record. They attacked SMUD for turning a deaf ear to ratepayers, noting that numerous federal and state wildlife agencies and boating and conservation representatives support the alternative hydro relicensing proposal. "Are we going to de-water the Upper American just so SMUD can provide cheap power to annex [the city of] Davis?" said Bill Center of the American River Recreation Association. SMUD hopes to provide service in Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland, and parts of Yolo County via a voter-approved annexation. Several of the speakers said they would fight the annexation attempt of PG&E territory to the west if the muni continued to oppose the more recreation- and fish-friendly hydropower licensing proposal. SMUD's hydropower project consists of 11 reservoirs and eight powerhouses. Its federal license expires next July. It is seeking a 50-year renewal from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Numerous organizations have been negotiating with SMUD over the licensing terms, which require the balancing of power and fish, wildlife, and recreation benefits. "SMUD's license application disregards critical elements that are essential for recreational use," according to the American River Association. The difference in releases and generation impacts between the competing proposals is between 5 and 7 percent. "The water in the Upper American River is a huge asset to SMUD" and helped avert blackouts in the last heat wave because the hydropower was quickly dispatchable, said Susan Patterson, a muni board member. The wildlife agencies involved, which saw their funding zeroed out by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, and river conservationists have 60 days to file comments at FERC. SMUD has 30 days to respond. "There will be more discussions," said SMUD president Genevieve Shiroma, adding that they will include looking "at how we measure up against PG&E."