FERC draft EIS endorses relicensing Drum-Spaulding, Yuba-Bear hydro projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a combined draft environmental impact statement endorsing proposed relicensing of the Drum-Spaulding hydroelectric project with a slightly reduced capacity of 191.5 MW and the Yuba-Bear project with a slightly increased capacity of 90.72 MW.

The two projects are located on the South Yuba, Middle Yuba, Bear, and North Fork American rivers in California.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff recommended relicensing the projects as proposed with some staff modifications as well as mandatory conditions and recommendations of resource agencies and groups.

Drum-Spaulding

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed to relicense the 192.5-MW Drum-Spaulding project (No. 2310), which features 10 developments: 105.9-MW Drum No. 1 and No. 2, 11.4-MW Spaulding No. 1 and No. 2, 5.8-MW Spaulding No. 3, 2-MW Alta, 5.7-MW Deer Creek, 22-MW Dutch Flat No. 1, 11-MW Halsey, 14-MW Wise, 3.2-MW Wise No. 2, and 11.5-MW Newcastle.

In its relicense applications, PG&E proposes to retire Alta powerhouse’s 1-MW Unit 2, which has not operated since 2007. That would reduce Drum-Spaulding’s total installed capacity to 191.5 MW. The utility also proposes to remove the Deer Creek development from the Drum-Spaulding project license and operate it as a separate project with no change in operation.

PG&E proposes other changes including removing the unused Jordan Creek diversion and conveyance system, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Drum-Spaulding relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $84.42 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. PG&E’s proposal would cost $105.48/MWh more than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative would cost $109.43/MWh more than alternative power.

Yuba-Bear

Nevada Irrigation District filed a relicense application in 2011 for the 79.32-MW Yuba-Bear project (No. 2266), which features four developments: 12.2-MW Rollins, 3.6-MW Bowman, 24.6-MW Dutch Flat No. 2, and 39-MW Chicago Park.

In its relicense application, NID proposes adding a new powerhouse, the 11.4-MW Rollins Upgrade, adjacent to the Rollins powerhouse, increasing total project installed capacity to 90.72 MW. NID proposes other changes including removing two roads, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Yuba-Bear relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $31.84 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. NID’s proposal would cost $52.16/MWh more than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative would cost $58/MWh more than alternative power.

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