New Hydro Project Proposed on the Yuba River

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A Canadian company has proposed to build a new hydroelectric facility at Daguerre Point Dam on the South Yuba River in California. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had determined that continued operation of the dam will jeopardize endangered fish species on the Yuba River.

A comment letter filed by the Coalition members states that Archon Energy, which is the proponent, has not accounted for the complexity of this proposal. Coalition members have been engaged in relicensings of multiple hydropower projects on the Yuba river and have been in discussions with federal resource agencies and other licensees for many years to address fish passage issues. NOAA’s biological opinion requires that the Army Corps, which owns the dam, to implement a program to provide fish passage past the dam by 2020.

Despite the complexity of issues, the applicant proposes to conduct no studies and has requested FERC for using Traditional Licensing Process, a process typically used for non-controversial projects. In its application letter, Archon states: “The Applicant does not propose to do any new studies and is not aware of any studies that should be conducted to provide critical information to determine the potential impacts, which should be determined before licensing.” At the same time, the applicant proposes to “…divert a significant portion of the river flows from just upstream of the existing dam…”

California Department of Fish and Game and NOAA have stated that the project is likely to be controversial. Read the comment letters from DFG and NOAA.

Comments on the application are due by October 2 and can be sent to FERC via online forum at http://ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp