THE US FEDERAL ENERGY Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued US-based PacifiCorp a new 30-year licence for four hydroelectric projects on the Bear river in Idaho. The new licence is based on a settlement agreement signed by some 13 organisations, including state and federal agencies, tribal, fisheries, environmental and recreational groups.
The groups signed the settlement agreement in August 2002, and submitted it to the FERC, which had been conducting the license renewal process for the projects since 1996. The four projects, Soda, Grace, Cove and Oneida, are part of PacifiCorp’s electric generation fleet, which serves 1.5M customers through Utah Power and Pacific Power in southeastern Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and northern California.
‘This license resolves many difficult issues,’ said Barry Cunningham, senior vice president of generation for PacifiCorp. ‘It represents the work of many dedicated individuals and their efforts to balance the often competing needs of various groups. Actions included in the new license will be of great benefit to the public resources of the Bear river watershed. As well, the new license maintains these projects as a cost-effective source of energy for our customers.’
Major points of the new license include:
• The creation of an Environmental Coordination Committee (ECC), comprised of representatives of PacifiCorp, state and federal agencies, and non-government groups.
• A comprehensive programme to improve habitat and increase populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout. The programme includes funding for assessment and monitoring of fish populations, production of brood stock, plus water quality improvements in project areas and riparian habitat restoration along the Bear river.
• Specified releases of water for whitewater boating in the Black Canyon and Oneida areas, when water is available.
• Improvements in recreational access for sporting activities, including designated parking areas and restroom facilities.
Taken together, the project improvements amount to certain one-time costs of more than US$1M, together with about US$800,000 spent annually throughout the 30-year period of the license. Also, PacifiCorp is foregoing hydroelectric generation to provide additional stream flows to benefit fish and recreation.