FERC staff recommends relicensing 1,893-MW Priest Rapids

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff concludes relicensing the 1,893-MW Priest Rapids project in Washington would provide a significant and dependable source of electrical energy for the region.

In a final environmental impact statement issued Nov. 17, FERC staff said recommended relicensing terms would: provide 9,750 gigawatt-hours annually; avoid the need for an equivalent amount of fossil fuel-fired generation and capacity; adequately protect and enhance environmental resources; and mitigate project effects.

FERC staff adopted relicensing proposals of project operator Grant County Public Utility District plus additional measures recommended by agencies and staff to protect and enhance environmental resources on the Columbia River. Enhancement measures include: control of erosion and sediment; improvements in water quality and quantity, fish and wildlife habitat, and cultural resources; and upgrades to recreational facilities.

The final EIS documents the views of government agencies, Indian tribes, the public, the applicant, and commission staff. (HNN 3/2/06) It contains the staff's evaluation of the applicant's proposal and alternatives for relicensing. The commission will consider the final EIS when deciding whether to relicense the project (No. 2114).

Priest Rapids has operated under a temporary annual license since its original license expired in November 2005.

At a meeting of U.S. Senate energy and environment committee members and staff Nov. 16, a Grant County PUD official called for continued federal funding of hydropower research and development and cited work at Priest Rapids to increase efficiency and output (HNN 11/21/06)

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