FERC approves PacifiCorp’s surrender, removal of 14.7-MW Condit Dam

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has accepted PacifiCorp’s surrender of its license for 14.7-MW Condit Dam and approved the utility’s plan to remove the dam, 19 years after PacifiCorp attempted to relicense the project.

Resource agencies and groups, including American Rivers, pushed for decommissioning and removal of Condit Dam (No. 2342) because it has cut off salmon and steelhead from Washington’s White Salmon River, a Columbia River tributary, for nearly a century. In a settlement with resource agencies and stakeholder groups, PacifiCorp agreed to remove Condit Dam and to decommission the project rather than spend an estimated $30 million to install fish ladders that would be required for relicensing.

PacifiCorp and Klickitat and Skamania counties recently submitted another agreement to FERC in which the counties agreed not to oppose decommissioning the project in return for several concessions from PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp is to: pay the counties $675,000 to offset decommissioning effects on the area; transfer the project’s hydroelectric water right to Klickitat County; and complete measures to protect the structural integrity of Northwestern Lake Bridge. Removal of the dam will drain 92-acre Northwestern Lake.

PacifiCorp received a Clean Water Act Section 401 certification from the Washington Department of Ecology Oct. 12, a decade after the utility’s original request for 401 certification.

FERC approved the license surrender order Dec. 16, approving removal of all project facilities except the historic powerhouse, built in 1913. Dam removal is expected to cost PacifiCorp more than $20 million.

“We conclude, based on the record of this case, that the benefits of dam removal to anadromous fish, wildlife, and whitewater recreation outweigh the costs associated with the loss of Condit Dam and Northwestern Lake,” FERC said.

The commission said dam removal activities cannot begin before October 2011 due to necessary pre-removal arrangements. In-water work is to be completed by August 2012. As part of removal, a tunnel is to be constructed through the base of the dam to drain the reservoir.

For more FERC news, click here.

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