Citing environmental impacts in the areas this project will flood with water, the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 16 rejected a November 2013 original major license application from Twin Lakes Canal Co. allowing it to construct and operate the 10-MW Bear River Narrows Project, to be located on the Bear River in Franklin County, Idaho.
The project would occupy approximately 89 acres of federal land managed by the U. S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Bear River is highly regulated to meet year-round contractual irrigation requirements, to generate hydropower, to enhance recreation, fish, and wildlife, and to provide flood protection. Approximately 500 irrigation organizations, including Twin Lakes, own and operate irrigation systems and water storage and irrigation dams in the Bear River watershed.
Four developments with licensed hydropower facilities are located on the Bear River, including the Soda, Grace, and Oneida developments that are part of PacifiCorp’s Bear River Project No. 20 (Bear River Project). The Bear River Project was relicensed in 2003 for a term of 30 years. The 2003 relicense order includes, as license conditions, portions of a settlement agreement that was entered into by PacifiCorp and other relicensing participants. Consistent with that agreement, the Bear River Project license requires PacifiCorp to implement recreation, land management, and fishery mitigation measures below the project’s Oneida development.
Twin Lakes proposes to construct the Bear River Narrows Project dam approximately 5 miles downstream of the Oneida development in the Oneida Narrows Canyon, a scenic canyon with steep cliffs, mountainous terrain, wildlife, and riverine-riparian vegetation. The project would inundate a 4.5-mile stretch of the canyon.
The proposed reservoir would flood PacifiCorp’s three project-recreation areas below its Oneida development and would eliminate the need for releasing whitewater flows below the Oneida dam as required by the Bear River Project license. The proposed reservoir would also flood PacifiCorp conservation lands within the Bear River Project boundary that are managed to minimize effects on natural resources and protect the shoreline.
FERC on June 16 denied Twin Lakes’ license application for the Bear River Narrows Project because it found that the project’s irremediable adverse effects would be inconsistent and would interfere with the purpose of BLM’s Oneida Narrows Research Natural Area, and because the project would not be best adapted to a comprehensive plan for improving or developing the Bear River.
This June 16 order constitutes final agency action. Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days from the date of its issuance.