FERC EIS recommends relicensing 774.3-MW Wells

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a final environmental impact statement that recommends relicensing the 774.3-MW Wells hydroelectric project on the Columbia River in Washington.

The Oct. 25 document follows a draft EIS, issued April 6, that also endorsed the relicensing proposal of licensee Douglas County Public Utility District, plus FERC staff modifications, for Wells (No. 2149).

Although Douglas PUD does not propose new generating facilities, the district awarded a contract to Toshiba International Corp. in 2008 to rebuild and modernize nine of the project’s 10 generators and to renew and refurbish turbine parts for all 10 units.

Wells consists of a 1,165-foot-long, 168-foot-wide concrete structure containing 10 generating units; 11 spillways, five of which are modified for juvenile fish bypass; a switchyard; two fish ladders with trap and sorting facilities; a 2,300-foot-long, 40-foot-tall earth and rockfill west embankment; a 1,030-foot-long, 160-foot-tall earth and rockfill east embankment; a fish hatchery; two 41-mile transmission lines; and recreational facilities.

Douglas PUD is using FERC’s Integrated Licensing Process, which coordinates FERC’s review with that of other agencies and groups. The utility proposed new visitor interpretive displays, refurbishment of fish hatchery facilities, construction of a tent camping facility, and expansion of marina and boat launch facilities.

The licensee also proposed continued implementation of the Wells Anadromous Fish Agreement and implementation of management plans for water quality, bull trout, Pacific lamprey, white sturgeon, resident fish, aquatic nuisance species, wildlife and botanical species, avian protection, historic properties, and recreation.

FERC staff recommended the staff alternative, which consists of measures in Douglas PUD’s proposal, some of the mandatory conditions and recommendations by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional staff recommendations.

A revised economic analysis in the document found that continuing to operate the project as originally licensed would produce power at $89.28 per megawatt-hour less than the cost of alternative power; Douglas PUD’s proposal would produce power at $88.80/MWh less than alternative power; and the preferred staff alternative with mandatory conditions would produce power at $88.84/MWh less than the cost of alternative power.

The final EIS may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=12800397.

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