New License Application Submitted for Weber Hydroelectric Project

June 11, 2018

Weber_Diversion_Dam.jpg

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain power is seeking to renew its federal operating license for the Weber hydroelectric project. The final license application is the product of a consultation process that began in March 2015 with key stakeholders on a series of project environmental improvements, proposed mitigation measures, and operational refinements. The utility has submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which issues the new license.

“This application represents the cooperative effort of Rocky Mountain Power, state and federal agencies, and recreational, fishing and other public interest organizations,” said Eve Davies, Weber relicensing project manager for Rocky Mountain Power. “Their hard work, important suggestions and review produced an application that satisfies the multiple-use considerations required by the federal licensing process. We’re grateful for their involvement and input.”

Paul Thompson, Deputy Director, Recovery Programs Office, Utah Department of Natural Resources, said, “Partnerships are the key to conservation effectiveness and the mitigation measures identified in this relicensing demonstrate that all partners care deeply about the Weber River, ensuring that the fishery will thrive well into the future.”

“The application submitted by the company is the product of a truly collaborative process among many partners, including Trout Unlimited,” said Paul Burnett, Utah Water and Habitat Program Lead, Trout Unlimited. “The end result will be a positive outcome for everyone, with improvements to this valuable fishery and continued power generation by Rocky Mountain Power into the future.”

“Rocky Mountain Power worked collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other key local, state, and federal partners to develop workable solutions for fish passage affecting sensitive fish species in the Weber River,” said George Weekley, Fisheries Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We fully expect the solutions that were developed will improve conditions for fish in the Weber River and contribute to the long-term conservation of their populations and habitats.”

The Weber hydroelectric project is located on the Weber River about nine miles southeast of City of Ogden near the mouth of Weber Canyon. It was built by a predecessor company of Rocky Mountain Power, completed in 1910. The first federal license was issued in 1938 and was renewed in 1970 and 1990.

Weber has a capacity of 3.85 megawatts, with average annual generation of 16,926 megawatt-hours, which is equivalent to the annual electrical usage of about 1,800 typical homes.

The license application proposes to continue operating the plant as a run-of-the-river project, with no significant water storage. A diversion dam 1.7 miles upstream diverts a portion of river water into an underground penstock that carries the water for electric generation at the plant. After electric generation, the water is then returned to the river. Operating agreements in the current license, which are also included in the proposed new license, ensure that a minimum flow of at least 34-50 cubic-feet-per-second is maintained in the river, depending on the season and annual runoff forecasts.

The application includes a number of protection, mitigation and enhancement measures to improve fish habitat, environmental considerations and recreational opportunities. These enhancements include:

  • Construction of a fish ladder that will allow upstream and downstream passage of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout and Bluehead Sucker, two rare native species that are found in the project reach of the Weber River. Coordination with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and other stakeholders is also specified regarding management of fish passage upstream of the project.
  • Preliminary agreement to provide potential whitewater boating flows within the project reach on four Saturdays prior to July 15 each year, for four-hour periods. This measure is contingent upon determinations by the U.S. Forest Service and boating organizations on safe and legal access and use provisions that will be determined later.
  • Construction of a new year-round picnic site with handicapped-accessible paths and restroom facilities, in consultation with the U.S. Forest Service. The road to the existing Weber recreation area will also continue to be maintained as part of the new license terms.
  • Outside of the license requirements, two existing user-created pedestrian trails will be improved for additional pedestrian access for fishing and other recreational access downriver of the picnic site. One of these trails will require additional consultation with the Utah Department of Transportation and local landowners.

To review the utility’s license application, see: http://www.pacificorp.com/es/hydro/hl/weber.html

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