FERC staff would trim $1 million a year from Clackamas relicense

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff is recommending several modifications to a settlement agreement that would trim $1 million from the proposed annual cost of operating Portland General Electric's four-powerhouse, 173-MW Clackamas River project in Clackamas County, Ore.

PGE filed a stakeholder settlement agreement earlier this year with its relicense application (No. 2195). The agreement proposes environmental protection, mitigation, and enhancement that would cost PGE an additional $11 million per year.

Federal and state agencies, environmental groups, Indian tribes, local governments, water districts, and recreational businesses were among 33 parties who signed the agreement. By providing for a number of PGE-funded improvements to the project, the settlement ensured that the groups would support PGE's bid to operate the project another 45 years.

FERC's Office of Energy Projects reviewed the filing and issued a draft environmental impact statement June 16. The draft analyzes the project's potential environmental effects and concludes relicensing, with staff-recommended measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting quality of the human environment.

FERC staff balks at some settlement enhancements

The staff proposed modifying the relicensing plan in areas of: erosion and sedimentation control; water quality and quantity; improvements to fish habitat; and upgrades to recreation facilities. The staff rejected enhancement measures from the settlement agreement that remain uncertain or that are not project related.

The draft notes the annual cost of operating the project under the proposed settlement would be $18.8 million, while annual power benefits would be $30.2 million. That would create a net annual benefit of $11.4 million on an annual average generation of 695,366 MWh. FERC staff's alternative would reduce the annual cost of operation to $17.7 million, with annual power benefits of $30.2 million for a net annual benefit of $12.5 million on the same generation.

Under the "no action alternative," in which the project would continue to operate under terms and conditions of the existing license and without new environmental measures, the project annually would generate an average of 755,591 MWh. The annual cost of operation would total $9.4 million, producing annual power benefits of $32.4 million, and a net annual benefit of $23.1 million.

The draft EIS can be obtained from FERC's Internet site, www.ferc.gov, at the "e-Library" link under docket No. P-2195. Comments can be filed with Magalie Salas, Secretary, FERC, 888 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20426. FERC encourages use of the Internet to file comments, also under the e-Library. Comments must be filed by Aug. 7, and should refer to project No. 2195-011.

A public meeting to accept comments is set July 28 in Portland.

In 2003, FERC combined the North Fork (No. 2195) and Oak Grove (No. 135) projects under a single project license (No. 2195) and renamed it Clackamas. It includes 58-MW North Fork, 44-MW Oak Grove, 46-MW Faraday, and 25-MW River Mill developments, with eight dams, seven reservoirs, four powerhouses, and miles of pipelines, canals, tunnels, and fish ladders.

The system, which generates 40 percent of the electric power supplied in Oregon, stretches from Timothy Lake in the Cascade Mountains to River Mill Dam at Estacada, Ore.

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