FERC approves ending generation at flood-damaged 6-MW Powerdale

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a request by PacifiCorp to cease generation three years earlier than planned at the 6-MW Powerdale project on Oregon’s Hood River.

PacifiCorp sought approval Feb. 1, citing a November 2006 flood that damaged the project. Debris and floodwater destroyed steel and woodstave portions of the flowline, flooded the powerhouse and switchyard, and deposited significant amounts of sediment at the diversion dam intake and powerhouse tailrace.

The utility said it would not be feasible to rebuild Powerdale (No. 2659), given the project already was scheduled for decommissioning starting in April 2010. PacifiCorp estimated it would cost $4.46 million to restore the project and operate it for only three years. FERC agreed in a Feb. 8 order.

PacifiCorp said it would defer consideration of formal decommissioning activities prior to April 2010 until it consulted with other parties. FERC had accepted PacifiCorp’s application to surrender the project license in 2005 but had said Powerdale could continue to operate while fisheries studies were completed.

A 2003 agreement among PacifiCorp, state and federal resource agencies, and stakeholders called for the utility to decommission and remove portions of the project. In reaching that agreement, the utility said it viewed Powerdale’s economic viability as doubtful. PacifiCorp said it made sense for its customers to close the plant rather than invest considerable new capital to continue to operate it for another 30 to 50 years.

PacifiCorp estimates lost generation from Powerdale over the three years it would have operated will total about 47,000 MWh. Generation at other PacifiCorp facilities, or purchases on the open market, will replace the lost generation with substantial savings to ratepayers, it said.

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