(Eureka) Friends of the Eel River welcomes today’s announcement by PG&E that the utility is withdrawing its formal notice of intent to seek relicensing of the Potter Valley Project (PVP) before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and ceasing its efforts to sell off the two dams and associated diversion works. The two dams and diversion works of the Potter Valley Project divert water from the upper mainstem Eel River to the upper Russian River.
“This is by no means the end of the story,” said FOER Conservation Director Scott Greacen. “But this is the turning point. Removal of at least Scott Dam is now more likely than not.”
In its notice to FERC, PG&E admits that “Potter Valley has long been recognized as uneconomic for PG&E’s ratepayers,” and points to “declining energy markets … increased costs associated with anticipated new license conditions, and challenging financial circumstances …” as reasons to withdraw its relicensing application.
FOER cautions, however, that the full picture of the liabilities associated with the Eel River dams has yet to emerge. “PG&E may be facing financial reality here, but they have yet to come clean either about the potentially disastrous safety situation at Scott Dam, or about the ecological impacts of the dam on Eel River salmon, steelhead, and lamprey,” said David Keller, FOER’s Bay Area director.
For its part, FERC is now likely to move the PVP to its ‘orphan project’ process. While the agency will probably repeat the utility’s apparently unsuccessful effort to find a new buyer for the dams, FOER thinks the ultimate outcome is now likely to be decommissioning and removal of at least Scott Dam.
“The good news here is that the stakeholders’ group convened by Rep. Huffman to address PVP relicensing has already done most of the work to lay out a truly sustainable solution to needs of both the Russian and Eel River watersheds,” said Greacen. “Now it’s time to move forward with an agreement to remove Scott Dam and restore the Eel River’s fisheries.”
You can read the notice of withdrawal PG&E sent to FERC here.
Scott Greacen, Conservation Director – 707-798-6345 or scott(at)eelriver.org
David Keller, Bay Area Director – 707-763-9336 or dkeller(at)eelriver.org