Eugene Water & Electric Board, 051719 FERC, 2242-078
|Party Name:||Eugene Water & Electric Board|
|Judge Panel:||Before Commissioners: Neil Chatterjee, Chairman; Cheryl A. LaFleur, Richard Glick, and Bernard L. McNamee. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.|
|Case Date:||May 17, 2019|
|Court:||Federal Energy Regulatory Commission|
Before Commissioners: Neil Chatterjee, Chairman; Cheryl A. LaFleur, Richard Glick, and Bernard L. McNamee.
ORDER ISSUING NEW LICENSE
1. On November 24, 2006, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) filed, pursuant to sections 4(e) and 15 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 1 an application for a new license to continue operating and maintaining the Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric Project No. 2242. The 91.995-megawatt (MW) project is located on the McKenzie and Smith Rivers in Lane and Linn Counties, near McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, and occupies about 574 acres within the Willamette National Forest.2 As discussed below, this order issues a new license for the project.
2. The Commission issued the current license for the project on January 8, 1959, with an effective date of December 1, 1958. That license expired on November 30, 2008.EWEB has since operated the project under an annual license pending the disposition of its new license application.
3. On March 9, 2007, the Commission issued a public notice, accepting the application and setting May 8, 2007 as the deadline for filing notices and motions to intervene.4 The U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service), the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior), and the State of Oregon filed notices of intervention; the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) filed a notice of intervention and comments.5 The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (Warm Springs); Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon (Siletz); Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (Grand Ronde); jointly, Trout Unlimited, American Whitewater, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Oregon Wild, and McKenzie Flyfishers (referred to jointly as Trout Unlimited); and Bill Kloos6 timely filed motions to intervene.7 None of the intervenors oppose issuing a new license for the project.
4. On October 24, 2008, EWEB filed a Settlement Agreement (2008 Settlement Agreement) with the Commission. In addition to EWEB, the settlement parties include: NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Forest Service, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (Oregon DEQ), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (Oregon DFW), Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (Oregon Parks), Grand Ronde, Siletz, Warm Springs, American Whitewater, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Wild, McKenzie Flyfishers, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Inc., and Trout Unlimited. On November 14, 2008, the Commission issued a public notice of the settlement agreement; the notice also indicated that the application was ready for environmental analysis and set January 13, 2009 as the deadline to file comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions.9 The Forest Service, NMFS, Trout Unlimited, and Interior filed comments and recommendations.
5. On September 17, 2009, Commission staff issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) for public comment. FWS, NMFS, Forest Service, Oregon DFW, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Inc., EWEB, and Ada June Tolliver filed comments.
6. On July 27, 2015, EWEB requested that the Commission delay its decision on the license while it reanalyzed the economic viability of the project.10 A delay until January 31, 2016 was granted. On January 29, 2016, EWEB filed a revised project economic analysis, indicating that proposed fish passage measures made the project uneconomical. EWEB requested that the Commission continue to delay issuing the new license while EWEB and the settlement parties developed new, cost-effective fish passage alternatives. Two additional requests to delay the licensing decision were subsequently granted.
7. On November 30, 2016, EWEB filed an amended Settlement Agreement (2016 Settlement Agreement). The parties to the 2016 Settlement Agreement include: EWEB, NMFS, FWS, Forest Service, Oregon DEQ, Oregon DFW, Oregon Parks, Grand Ronde, Siletz, Warm Springs, McKenzie Flyfishers, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Inc., and Trout Unlimited.
8. As discussed further below, under the terms of the 2016 Settlement Agreement, EWEB proposes to: install a new trap-and-haul system at the project's Trail Bridge Dam instead of a volitional fish ladder; provide fish access to the new trap-and-haul system by removing the existing tailrace barrier downstream of Trail Bridge Dam; and cease generation at the Trail Bridge power plant to pass fish downstream of Trail Bridge Dam through the existing spillway instead of screening the intake. The settlement parties also agree to implement aquatic and recreation measures that would occur in the McKenzie Wild and Scenic River corridor. These measures would not be included in the new license, to avoid conflicts with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
9. On December 2, 2016, the Commission issued a public notice seeking comments on the 2016 Settlement Agreement.12 Letters supporting the 2016 Settlement Agreement were filed by NMFS, Forest Service, FWS, National Park Service, Oregon DFW, Trout Unlimited, and American Whitewater. No comments were filed in opposition.
10. At the request of the settlement parties, Commission staff held a technical conference on March 29, 2017 to discuss the terms of the 2016 Settlement Agreement.13On May 24, 2017, the Commission issued a public notice seeking revised comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions.14 The Forest Service, NMFS, Interior, and Oregon DFW filed comments and revised recommendations and conditions consistent with the 2016 Settlement Agreement. On August 28, 2017, EWEB filed reply comments. The interventions, comments, and recommendations have been fully considered in determining whether, and under what conditions, to issue this license.
A. Existing Project Facilities
11. The Carmen-Smith Project consists of two developments-the Carmen development and the Trail Bridge development. The project stores water in three project reservoirs: Carmen diversion (on the McKenzie River), Smith (on the Smith River), and Trail Bridge (at the confluence of the McKenzie and Smith Rivers and receiving water from both). The project includes two powerhouses (Carmen and Trail Bridge), and bypasses a 5.7-mile-long reach of the McKenzie River and a 2.5-mile-long reach of the Smith River. The McKenzie River bypassed reach is divided by Tamolitch Falls into two reaches: the 3.4-mile-long Upper Carmen bypassed reach, which extends from the Carmen diversion dam to Tamolitch Falls,  and the 2.3-mile-long Lower Carmen bypassed reach, which extends downstream from Tamolitch Falls to Trail Bridge reservoir. The Smith River bypassed reach extends 2.5 miles downstream from Smith dam to Trail Bridge reservoir (see figure 1).
12. The 30-acre Carmen diversion reservoir, which is impounded by the 25-foot-high, 2, 100-foot-long Carmen diversion dam on the McKenzie River at river mile 87.5, has minimal storage. Water from the Carmen diversion reservoir is diverted into the 2.2-mile-long underground Carmen diversion tunnel that discharges water into the 178-acre Smith reservoir located west of the Carmen diversion reservoir on the Smith River, a tributary of the McKenzie River. Spill from Carmen diversion dam is discharged to the Carmen bypassed reach, which then flows into the Trail Bridge reservoir located downstream on the McKenzie River.
13. The Smith reservoir is created by the 235-foot-high, 1, 100-foot-long Smith dam, which is located at river mile 2.5 on the Smith River. From Smith reservoir, water enters the 1.4-mile-long underground Smith power tunnel and travels to a surge chamber for the Carmen penstock. From the surge chamber, water flows through the 1, 160-foot-long Carmen penstock to the Carmen powerhouse, located at the upstream end of Trail Bridge reservoir. The Carmen powerhouse contains two generating units with Francis turbines and two generators, each with a nameplate capacity of 41.61 MW, for a total authorized capacity at Carmen of 83.220 MW.16 Spill from Smith dam is discharged to the Smith River downstream of the dam and flows downstream through the 2.5-mile-long Smith bypassed reach into Trail Bridge reservoir. A 19-mile-long, 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission line17 connects the Carmen substation, which is contiguous with the Carmen powerhouse, to the Bonneville Power Administration's Cougar-Eugene transmission line.
14. Water from the Carmen powerhouse is discharged into the 71-acre Trail Bridge reservoir, which is impounded by the 100-foot-high, 700-foot-long Trail Bridge dam at river mile 82 on the McKenzie River. Trail Bridge is used as a re-regulating development. Water in the Trail Bridge reservoir passes through...
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