FERC declines to take jurisdiction over pipeline associated with Lake Powell hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order denying the petition for declaratory order on jurisdiction around the Lake Powell Pipeline Project.

The petition was filed by the Utah Board of Water Resources, the license applicant for hydroelectric generating facilities to be located on this pipeline, and the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the principal beneficiary of the project. The two asked FERC to find that its licensing jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act extends to all of the project facilities identified by the board as the “hydro system,” including 89 miles of connecting water delivery pipeline.

In addition to hydropower generation, a primary purpose of the proposed project would be to deliver water from Lake Powell in Arizona 140 miles to southwestern Utah for municipal and industrial use, FERC said.

FERC denied the petition and clarified that it would only license the hydroelectric power generating facilities.

The 140-mile-long pipeline would convey up to 100,000 acre-feet of water from year from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lake Powell, through a buried 69-inch-diameter pipeline. Water would be pumped uphill about 50 miles to a high point, then flow downhill nearly 90 miles through:

  • Four inline hydroelectric turbines, each with a capacity of 1 MW to 1.7 MW
  • A 35-MW flow-through peaking project at Hurricane Cliffs, a future phase of the Hurricane Cliffs development that would add a 300-MW pumped-storage project
  • A 5-MW generating facility at the Sand Hollow reservoir, where the project terminates

The piece in question was the entire 89 miles of pipeline that would flow from a regulating tank at the highest point of the pipeline to the generating units.

FERC said that the project is, first and foremost, a large water conveyance system whose primary purpose is not hydropower development. The Commission also determined that its licensing jurisdiction does not extend to the water delivery pipeline itself. Therefore, FERC said it would “not act as the ultimate decision maker for approving any portion of the overall project beyond the discrete hydropower facilities. In addition, the Commission will not be responsible for determining which alternative route for the water delivery pipeline should be chosen.”

Click here for the full text of the order.

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