The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a new 50-year licence to Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County for operation of Lake Chelan hydroelectric project.
The new licence is based on a settlement agreement submitted to FERC on 17 October 2003 between Chelan County PUD and a series of stakeholders that includes the local communities, state and federal agencies and environmental groups.
The licence contains requirements for operating the 48MW Lake Chelan project that are estimated to cost Chelan County PUD approximately US$53M over the 50 years, including provisions for a year-round minimum flow in the Chelan river, maintaining existing parks, regulating lake levels, fish habitat enhancements in the Chelan rRiver, adding a trail that improves access to the river, and a variety of other actions.
Chelan County PUD’s application to FERC was developed in an Alternative Licensing process that included wide-ranging input from members of the community. Broad support for the licence application included the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, city of Chelan, the People for Lake Chelan, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, and American Whitewater.
‘This licence would not have been possible without the collaborative relationships established through the relicensing process and all the parties that came together to find solutions to some very difficult issues,’ said Gregg Carrington, Chelan County PUD hydro services director. ‘The new licence strikes a balance between our core business function of producing power, environmental concerns, recreation and economic issues.’
Chelan County PUD staff will carefully study the licence order to see if there are any significant changes from the settlement agreement. Should it decide to do so, Chelan County PUD has 30 days from the day the licence is issued to file an appeal of any portion of the licence.
Chelan County PUD began the relicensing effort for the Lake Chelan project in 1997, seven years before the licence was to expire in March 2004. Since 2004, Chelan County PUD has been operating the dam with annual licences issued by FERC.
Chelan County PUD also has submitted an application for a new license for the Rocky Reach Project on the Columbia river. Federal action on that application is expected in the next year or two.