Eel River Dams License Renewal – Potter Valley Project

Eel River Dams License Renewal - Potter Valley Project

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Project Goal:

Improve streamflows and expand spawning habitat for Eel River salmon and steelhead in the upper mainstem Eel River. Work with Regional Coalition partners (Sonoma Water, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Round Valley Indian Tribe, Humboldt County) and the Huffman Ad Hoc Committee to obtain the FERC License and implement a Two-Basin Solution to the Potter Valley Project.


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Project Stages

Impact Study

Relationship Building

Ongoing

Estimated Completion Date:
Ongoing

Region:

Fish Affected:

Threats:

Project Description

PG&E’s Potter Valley Project in the upper Eel River watershed consists of two dams– one of which, Scott Dam, is the only complete barrier to fish migration on the mainstem Eel, blocking over 150 miles of native fish spawning and rearing habitat. In part due to highly reduced flows and major habitat alteration from the dams, the Eel River’s wild salmon and steelhead runs are dramatically reduced. CalTrout is leading the effort to bring all parties involved to the table to reach an agreement that ideally includes the decommissioning and removal of Scott Dam.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is the licensee for the Potter Valley Project (Project). The current license for the Project (No. 77), as issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power Act, expires on April 14, 2022. The Project diverts water from the Eel River Basin into the Russian River Basin. The Project, including its operations and facilities, affects environmental quality, ecosystem services, native anadromous fisheries, and beneficial uses of water in both basins. On April 6, 2017, PG&E filed a Pre-Application Document and Notice of Intent to file a new license application for the Project, due by April 14, 2020. On January 25, 2019, PG&E filed a notice withdrawing its Notice of Intent and Pre-Application Document, stating that it will not seek or hold a new license for the Project. On January 29, PG&E filed a petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

On March 1, 2019, FERC issued a Notice Soliciting Applications from any entity interested in filing a new license application for the Project. This notice directs that any such entity must file the following package within 120 days, or by July 1, 2019: its own notice of intent to file a new license application; a pre-application document; and a proposal to complete the pre-filing stages of the licensing proceeding as required by FERC’s rules, including the study plan. The notice further directs that any entity must file an application for a license by April 14, 2020.

The Regional Coalition is participating, or intended to participate, in the licensing proceeding for the Project. They are also participating in a collaborative process convened by U.S. Representative Jared Huffman to develop recommendations on the terms of any new license for the Project. The Coalition supports the exploration of terms for a new license that will materially benefit both basins by advancing the following objectives (“Shared Objectives”). The Parties recognize that such a new license will advance, but will not by itself achieve our shared objectives.

Work with Regional Coalition partners (Sonoma Water, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Round Valley Indian Tribe, Humboldt County) and the Huffman Ad Hoc Committee to obtain the FERC License and implement a Two-Basin Solution to the Potter Valley Project.

The co-equal goals for a Two-Basin Solution include: mprove fish passage and habitat on the Eel River sufficient to support recovery of naturally reproducing, self-sustaining and harvestable native anadromous fish populations including migratory access upstream and downstream at current project dam locations; and to Minimize or avoid adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries, water quality and recreation in the Russian River and Eel River basins.

Project Partners:

The Eel River Forum members
(including PG&E, SCWA, PVID)
HSU River Institute
Riverbend Sciences
Friends of the Eel
Trout Unlimited
American Rivers
Native Fish Society
RVIT
California Hydropower Reform Coalition

Latest Project Info:

DAMS OUT Spotlight – Scott Dam, Potter Valley Project

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A Path Forward for the Potter Valley Project

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Potter Valley Project Update – PG&E Withdraws From Relicensing and Auction Process

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An Opportunity to Restore Fish Abundance on the Eel River

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