PG&E Delaying Eel River Dam Removal, Locals Demand a Free Eel River!

PG&E announced on Friday, May 31 late last week that it will request a 7-month extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in decommissioning the Eel River dams. Stakeholders were expecting the utility to file its Draft Surrender Application plan with FERC this month, with a final version due in January 2025. PG&E now says it will file the draft plan in January 2025 and the final version in June 2025.

In announcing the delay, PG&E expresses support for the still vague proposal for the New Eel-Russian Facility. This proposal would see a dam-free diversion from the Eel River to the Russian River constructed and managed by the newly formed Eel Russian Joint Powers Authority. PG&E is working with the proponents of the New Eel-Russian Facility (Sonoma County Water Agency, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Humboldt County, Round Valley Indian Tribes, California Trout, Trout Unlimited, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife) to develop a surrender application MOU “that aligns with PG&E’s Surrender Application and Decommissioning Plan.”

It would appear that PG&E hopes a short delay now will prevent a longer delay later. We are wary, however, that PG&E appears to be giving ground on their previous position that arrangements for a potential continued diversion will not delay Eel River dam removal. The Eel River’s native fish don’t have time to spare, and Eel River residents have waited long enough to see the justice that is dam removal.

Meanwhile, residents of Humboldt County continue to demand a free-flowing Eel River as soon as possible. Last month a group of nearly 60 dam removal enthusiasts floated the river from McCann to Dyerville, waving banners of support for freeing the Eel River.

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