CSPA presented oral scoping comments on June 28, 2017 for the relicensing of the Potter Valley Project in Mendocino and Lake counties. The small 1900’s-era hydroelectric project generates power with water that is piped from the upper mainstem Eel River to the upper Russian River watershed. The project’s Scott Dam, which forms Lake Pillsbury in Lake County, blocks passage for salmon and steelhead to the headwaters of the mainstem Eel River. In the past decade, the project has become much more valuable for the water it delivers than the power it produces.
In addition to issues specific to the project, the relicensing poses important legal and policy issues about relicensing generally and the relation of relicensing to water supply. It is also the first relicensing in California since that has begun since the February, 2017 spillway incident at Oroville Dam, and may offer insight into whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will consider dam safety in future relicensings. In addition, it is the first relicensing that PG&E has initiated since PG&E withdrew its license application for the DeSabla – Centerville Project in Butte County in February, 2017.