Draft EIS: Relicense 1,003-MW Boundary, surrender Sullivan

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a draft environmental impact statement that recommends relicensing the 1,003-MW Boundary hydroelectric project and accepting surrender of the license of the nearby Sullivan Creek water storage project in the Pend Oreille River Basin of Washington.

The draft EIS, issued April 8, recommends that FERC approve the relicense proposal of licensee Seattle City Light for Boundary (No. 2144) plus certain staff modifications. It also endorses licensee Pend Oreille County Public Utility District’s application to surrender the license of Sullivan Creek (No. 2225), with Seattle to remove that project’s Mill Pond Dam and perform other work to improve aquatic habitat in Sullivan Creek and Sullivan Lake.

Seattle filed in 2009 to relicense Boundary. In March 2010, Seattle and Pend Oreille PUD filed a settlement agreement asking to consolidate the relicense proceeding with the surrender of Sullivan Creek, which is operated by the PUD as a storage project for downstream generation under the Pacific Northwest Coordination Agreement.

The Boundary settlement agreement includes obligations for evaluating and providing fish passage for resident salmon, including fish entrainment, improving aquatic habitat, stocking fish for recreational purposes, conserving native fish, groundwater well decommissioning, acquiring and managing land for wildlife, and other measures for recreation and cultural resource enhancement and protection. Seattle also plans to upgrade turbine runners, rewind generators, and replace step-up transformers of two units, increasing generation, but not installed capacity.

Under the Sullivan Creek agreement, Pend Oreille PUD would retain and operate the remainder of the project under a U.S. Forest Service special use authorization. That would include Sullivan Lake Dam and Sullivan Lake. Mill Pond Dam would be removed and a cold water release intake would be added to Sullivan Lake Dam.

The economic analysis in the draft EIS found that continuing to operate Boundary as originally licensed would produce power at $20.20 per megawatt-hour less than the cost of alternative power; Seattle’s proposal would produce power at $19.24/MWh less than alternative power; and the preferred staff alternative would produce power at $19.30/MWh less than the cost of alternative power. Under the staff alternative, plus mandatory conditions ordered by resource agencies, the project would produce power at $19.22/MWh less than the cost of alternative power.

The draft EIS said the plan to surrender Sullivan Creek, plus FERC staff modifications, would cost $18.2 million.

The final EIS may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=12613838. Comments on the draft are due to FERC by May 31.

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