FERC EIS endorses relicensing Drum-Spaulding, Yuba-Bear hydro projects

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a final combined environmental impact statement that endorses dividing the Drum-Spaulding hydroelectric project into three projects totaling 191.5 MW and relicensing them plus the nearby Yuba-Bear hydro project of 90.72 MW.

FERC issued a draft EIS in 2013 that recommended relicensing Drum-Spaulding (No. 2310) and Yuba-Bear (No. 2266). The projects are located on the South Yuba, Middle Yuba, Bear, and North Fork American rivers in California.

Licensee Pacific Gas & Electric Co. subsequently amended its relicense application to divide Drum-Spaulding's 10 developments into the 146.1-MW Upper Drum-Spaulding project, with the existing FERC project No. 2310; the 39.7-MW Lower Drum project (No. 14531); and the 5.7-MW Deer Creek project (No. 14530).

146.1-MW Upper Drum-Spaulding

The Upper Drum-Spaulding project includes five developments: 105.9-MW Drum No. 1 and No. 2, 11.4-MW Spaulding No. 1 and No. 2, 5.8-MW Spaulding No. 3, 2-MW Alta and 22-MW Dutch Flat No. 1. In its relicense applications, PG&E proposes to retire Alta powerhouse's 1-MW Unit 2, which has not operated since 2007. That would reduce Upper Drum-Spaulding's total installed capacity to 146.1 MW.

PG&E proposes other changes including removing the unused Jordan Creek diversion and conveyance system, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the final EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Upper Drum-Spaulding relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $10.92 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. PG&E's proposal would cost $16.15/MWh more than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative plus resource agency mandatory conditions would cost $18.64/MWh more than alternative power.

39.7-MW Lower Drum

The Lower Drum project includes four developments: 11-MW Halsey, 14-MW Wise, 3.2-MW Wise No. 2 and 11.5-MW Newcastle. PG&E proposes environmental and recreational improvements.

In the EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Lower Drum relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $43.59 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. PG&E's proposal would cost $34.67/MWh less than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative plus resource agency mandatory conditions would cost $31.58/MWh less than alternative power.

5.7-MW Deer Creek

The Deer Creek project includes the single 5.7-MW Deer Creek development. PG&E proposes environmental improvements. PG&E said it is in the process of negotiating transfer of the Deer Creek Project to Nevada Irrigation District, licensee of the Yuba-Bear project.

In the EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Deer Creek relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $141.22 per MWh more than the cost of alternative power. PG&E's proposal would cost $159.64/MWh more than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative plus resource agency mandatory conditions would cost $169.47/MWh more than alternative power.

90.72-MW Yuba-Bear

Nevada Irrigation District filed a relicense application in 2011 for the 79.32-MW Yuba-Bear project (No. 2266), which features four developments: 12.2-MW Rollins, 3.6-MW Bowman, 24.6-MW Dutch Flat No. 2, and 39-MW Chicago Park.

In its relicense application, NID proposes adding a new powerhouse, the 11.4-MW Rollins Upgrade, adjacent to the Rollins powerhouse, increasing total project installed capacity to 90.72 MW. NID proposes other changes including removing two roads, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Yuba-Bear relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $44.16 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. NID's proposal would cost $20.10/MWh less than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative with resource agency mandatory conditions would cost $16.31/MWh less than alternative power.

The final EIS may be obtained from FERC's Internet site under http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/enviro/eis/2014/12-19-14.asp. Comments are due by Feb. 9, 2015.
 

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