FERC issues new license for hydro project

Wenatchee, WA, Nov. 8, 2006 — A new 50-year license for Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan County PUD) to continue operating the Lake Chelan Hydroelectric Project was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The new license is based on a settlement agreement submitted to FERC on Oct. 17, 2003, between Chelan County PUD and a series of stakeholders that includes the local communities, state and federal agencies and environmental groups.

“Lake Chelan is a major resource, and we are pleased that FERC has concluded its review and granted the new license,” said Rich Riazzi, Chelan County PUD general manager.

Chelan County PUD commission president Gary Montague said the new license would “provide numerous benefits for the environment, the economy, and for the people and areas surrounding Lake Chelan and Chelan County.”

The license contains requirements for operating the 48-megawatt Lake Chelan Project that are estimated to cost Chelan County PUD approximately $53 million over the 50 years, including provisions for a year-round minimum flow in the Chelan River, maintaining existing parks, regulating lake levels, fish habitat enhancements in the Chelan River, adding a trail that improves access to the Chelan River, and a variety of other actions.

Chelan County PUD’s application to FERC was developed in an alternative licensing process that included wide-ranging input from members of the community. Broad support for the license application included the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, city of Chelan, the People for Lake Chelan, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, and American Whitewater.

Gregg Carrington, Chelan County PUD Hydro Services director said the collaborative effort of such parties was essential to gaining the new license.

Chelan County PUD staff will carefully study the license order to see if there are any significant changes from the settlement agreement. Should it decide to do so, Chelan County PUD has 30 days from the day the license is issued to file an appeal of any portion of the license.

Key elements in the new license are a slightly modified lake level regime on Lake Chelan, year-round flow in the Chelan River of 80 cubic feet per second, stream restoration and habitat improvements in lower portion of the Chelan River including a new pump station to provide supplemental flows to the stream project, erosion control projects and dock repair on Lake Chelan for the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, scheduled whitewater boating provisions, continued operation and maintenance of Riverwalk, Old Mill, and Manson Bay parks, and a trail just below the Chelan Dam for access to the Chelan River.

Chelan County PUD began the re-licensing effort for the Lake Chelan Project in 1997, seven years before the license was to expire in March of 2004. Since 2004, the Chelan County PUD has been operating the dam with annual licenses issued by FERC.

Chelan County PUD also has submitted an application for a new license for the Rocky Reach Project on the Columbia River. Federal action on that application is expected in the next year or two.

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