Staff of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have recommended against licensing a dam, reservoir, and hydropower project proposed for the Bear River near Preston, Idaho.
The case involves a 2013 application by Twin Lakes Canal Company to the FERC for a license to construct, operate, and maintain the Bear River Narrows Project. The project would be located on the main stem of the Bear River in Franklin County, Idaho, about 9 miles northeast of the city of Preston. It would feature a 109-foot-high dam impounding a 362-acre reservoir, and a powerhouse with an installed capacity of 10 megawatts and estimated average annual generation of of 48,531 megawatt-hours of electricity. The reservoir would also be used to provide up to 5,000 acre-feet of water to Twin Lakes’ irrigation system during dry years.
Under the Federal Power Act, the FERC is charged with processing licenses for most hydropower projects in the U.S. Federal law guides the FERC in this duty. Sections 4(e) and 10(a)(1) of that act require the Commission to give equal consideration to the power development purposes and to the purposes of energy conservation; the protection of, mitigation of damage to, and enhancement of fish and wildlife; the protection of recreational opportunities; and the preservation of other aspects of environmental quality. The Commission can only issue licenses that in its judgment are best adapted to a comprehensive plan for improving or developing a waterway or waterways for all beneficial public uses. Additionally, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires the agency to analyze and document the environmental effects of proposed federal actions such as granting Twin Lakes’ application.
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