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PG&E to seek buyer for 28.7-MW Crane Valley hydroelectric facilities

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that its plans to sell the 28.7-MW Crane Valley Hydroelectric Project in Madera County, California.

PG&E’s Crane Valley Project was constructed between 1895 and 1920 by the San Joaquin Power Company, which later became the San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation. It consists of five hydroelectric powerhouses, as well as Bass Lake and Chilkoot Lake dams that form storage reservoirs and seven smaller diversion dams along the north and south forks of Willow Creek.

The powerhouses are Crane Valley, San Joaquin No. 3, San Joaquin No. 2, San Joaquin No. 1A and A.G. Wishon powerhouses. Bass Lake and PG&E lands on portions of the lake, which are protected by a conservation easement, are included. A new owner would need to comply with the license conditions, which include provisions for public recreation.

PG&E will prepare materials for a “request for offers” type of auction process intended to meet the needs of seller and buyer. In addition to price, PG&E will consider factors such as the buyer’s experience in operating a hydroelectric facility and working with resource agencies. This auction process is scheduled to begin next spring and the sale will be subject to regulatory approval.

PG&E expects a transfer of ownership could take about three years to complete. In the meantime, PG&E will own and operate the Crane Valley Project in compliance with its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating license, including recreation facilities. Because PG&E will continue to operate the project, the company is not planning any near-term changes to the workforce supporting ongoing operations and maintenance of these facilities. It also gives PG&E time to identify opportunities for additional training and reassignments for employees affected upon a sale.

PG&E says the Crane Valley Project no longer serves as an economical source of electricity generation for the utility’s customers. An increasingly competitive energy market, lower forecasted generation needs for PG&E’s bundled electric customers and the increasing cost of operating the facilities are all factors in the decision to sell. The proposed sale is not related to bankruptcy, from which PG&E emerged in July of 2020.

“The natural beauty and water resources of Bass Lake and the rest of the Crane Valley Project are so special to California. PG&E recognizes the importance of Bass Lake to the local economy and we intend to find a new owner for the project who appreciates its many special attributes and has the experience to operate it in compliance with regulatory requirements,” said Jan Nimick, vice president of power generation at PG&E.

PG&E expects to select the best overall proposal for the project and begin formal negotiations with a buyer in late 2021. Approval by FERC and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will be needed before ownership is transferred

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, is a combined natural gas and electric energy companies that delivers clean energy to nearly 16 million people in northern and central California.