FERC rejects permit application for Arizona hydro project

Since the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has asserted a priority right to the project site, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 4 rejected a Feb. 11 application from Archon Energy 1 Inc. on a 2.2-MW hydro project in Arizona.

Archon had applied for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the Laguna Dam Hydroelectric Project. Archon proposed to install hydroelectric facilities on the existing Laguna dam, a key feature of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Yuma Project and All-American canal system, located on the Colorado River near the City of Yuma, Ariz. The Laguna dam is operated by the Imperial Irrigation District.

The Interior Department and the Reclamation Bureau told FERC that the Boulder Canyon Project Act included Laguna dam as a “possible diversion point for the proposed All-American Canal, thereby folding the dam into the Boulder Canyon Project.” Therefore, Reclamation concluded that federal hydropower development is reserved at the site.

On June 3, the Imperial Irrigation District filed a motion to intervene and comments, arguing that the commission lacks jurisdiction over hydropower development at the Laguna dam and supporting Interior’s jurisdictional determination.

On Nov. 27, commission staff accepted Reclamation’s determination that hydropower at Laguna dam is reserved for federal development. “As such, the Commission is precluded from issuing an exemption or license for this project,” said the Dec. 4 order. “Since the sole purpose of a preliminary permit is to maintain priority of application to file an exemption or license, which the Commission can no longer issue for this project site, no purpose would be served by issuing a preliminary permit for the proposed project. Therefore, the permit application is dismissed.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.