FERC draft EIS recommends relicensing 368-MW McCloud-Pit

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a draft environmental impact statement that recommends relicensing the 368-MW McCloud-Pit hydroelectric project on the McCloud and Pit rivers in Shasta County, Calif.

Licensee Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed a relicense application for the project (No. 2106) in July 2009. (Hydro Review November 2008) The project includes two storage reservoirs, McCloud and Iron Canyon; two regulating reservoirs, Pit 6 and 7; one afterbay, Pit 7 afterbay; two tunnels; three powerhouses, 172-MW James B. Black, 80-MW Pit 6, and 112-MW Pit 7; and transmission facilities.

PG&E’s relicense application proposes adding a 5- to 8-MW powerhouse at McCloud Dam and a 10-MW powerhouse at Pit 7 Afterbay Dam. While FERC’s capacity listings for the new and proposed powerhouses total 382 MW, the draft EIS, issued July 30, lists McCloud-Pit as 368 MW.

PG&E is using FERC’s Integrated Licensing Process, which coordinates FERC’s review with that of other agencies and groups. (HydroWorld 7/27/10) The utility proposed higher minimum instream flow releases, measures to protect sensitive species, measures to enhance recreation, and management plans to cover water quality, wildlife, vegetation, recreation, and cultural resources.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff recommended the staff alternative, which consists of measures in PG&E’s proposal, some of the mandatory conditions and recommendations by state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and some additional staff recommendations.

The economic analysis in the document found that continuing to operate the project as originally licensed would produce power at $72.52 per megawatt-hour less than the cost of alternative power; PG&E’s proposal would produce power at $65.62/MWh less than alternative power; and the preferred staff alternative would produce power at $65.08/MWh less than the cost of alternative power.

FERC is taking comments on the draft EIS until Sept. 28. The document may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site at www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/enviro/eis/2010/07-30-10.asp.

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