August/September 2022 Update
POTTER VALLEY PROJECT UPDATE: AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2022
On July 28th, FERC submitted a response to the May 20, 2022, filing for a request for rehearing, reconsideration, and/or discretionary action regarding the FERC issuance of the annual Project license to PG&E that was approved on April 21, 2022. The rehearing request was submitted by Friends of the Eel River, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Trout Unlimited, and California Trout (collectively, Petitioners) alleging that the annual license is not in compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The full text can be seen HERE. Take note of the last page, where one of the FERC Commissioners makes a statement worth reading.
On July 29th, FERC’s released correspondence to PG&E, NMFS, U.S FWS and the CA Office of Historic Preservation in response to the July 8th PG&E notice of license surrender and timeline for decommissioning. FERC designates the licensee (PG&E) as the non-federal representative for various consultation requirements that will occur, outlines what is required in the license surrender application and also states that FERC expects a surrender application to be filed within 30 months, January 2025. The full letter can be seen HERE.
Also on July 29th, several fishery NGOs submitted comments in response to FERC’s approval of the PG&E license surrender timeline in the document described above. The entities offer an alternative timeline to complete the surrender and decommissioning plan from the proposed 30 months to 22 months. The full letter can be seen HERE.
On August 15th, FERC submitted a letter to NMFS that was in relation to the March 17th NMFS filing regarding consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) provisions of section 305(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) for operations at the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project No. 77. FERC required a response from NMFS within 60 days. The full text can be seen HERE.
On May 13th, PG&E filed a flow variance with FERC. The reason for the variance is stated to protect storage and to preserve water in the cold/cool water pool for fishery needs. Lake Pillsbury has been operating under a Normal year designation. On May 15th, releases into the East Fork Russian River increased from 35 CFS to 75 CFS. The flow variance is asking for the approval to go to a critical release to the East Fork of 5 CFS (with no buffer) with the potential to increase to dry year release flows of 25 CFS depending on storage in Lake Pillsbury. Potter Valley Irrigation District will remain on demand based scheduling for water contract releases.The full variance request can be seen HERE.
On July 27th, FERC approved the flow variance request effective immediately. The approval can be seen HERE. For the Russian River, this means that the current releases through the Project and into the East Fork was reduced from 75 CFS to 5 CFS.