Colorado/Wyoming - On September 1, 2011, Wyco Power and Water, Inc., filed a preliminary permit
application to study the feasibility of developing the Regional Watershed Supply Project.
Today, FERC dismissed as premature that preliminary permit application.
The Regional Watershed Supply Project would consist of seven hydropower projects and a
501-mile water pipeline that would extend from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River in
Wyoming to a proposed reservoir near Pueblo, Colorado. The water pipeline does not exist
and has not been authorized. Until FERC is presented with some certainty regarding the
route and authorizations for the water pipeline, the applicant cannot gather and obtain the
information necessary to comply with the terms of a preliminary permit for a hydropower
project. Therefore, there is no purpose for issuing a preliminary permit to Wyco Power and
Water, Inc. at this time.
The final order from FERC followed the interventions of American Whitewater and other
conservation groups and interested parties. In a large-scale effort to address the
preliminary permit application, AW, American Rivers and the Colorado River Outfitters Association
jointly filed in opposition to the project with FERC. Section 2 of the Order below, lists
other intervenors including our conservation partners. The proposed project would have had
significant impacts on the iconic river canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers, including Gates
of Lodore, Desolation and Gray Canyons, and Cataract Canyon, among others. Today's order is a
significant milestone for conservation-minded paddlers and the recreation industry in the
Colorado River basin!
ORDER DISMISSING PRELIMINARY PERMIT APPLICATION
- On September 1, 2011, Wyco Power and Water, Inc. (Wyco) filed a preliminary permit
application to study the feasibility of the Regional Watershed Supply Project
No. 14263. Wyco’s proposed project would consist of: (1) a proposed
501-mile-long buried water supply pipeline that would extend from two points of diversion in
Wyoming (Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River) to a proposed reservoir near Pueblo,
Colorado; and (2) seven hydropower projects, including two pumped storage projects, that use
water from the proposed pipeline and five projects that would consist of turbines placed in the
water supply pipeline. The proposed project would occupy federal lands managed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (Forest Service), and the U.S. Department of the
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
- On October 18, 2011, the Commission issued public notice of Wyco’s proposal.
Notices of intervention were filed by the Forest Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department. Motions to intervene were filed
by Coalition of Local Governments; Colorado River Water Conservation District; Colorado Springs
Utilities; Sweetwater County, Wyoming; Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District; American Rivers,
American Whitewater, and Colorado River Outfitters Association, filing jointly;
Colorado Environmental Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, and Western Resources
Advocates, filing jointly; Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Rocky Mountain Wild,
Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Wyoming Outdoor Council,
Citizens for Dixie’s Future, Glen Canyon Institute, Living Rivers: Colorado Riverkeeper,
and Utah Rivers Council, filing jointly; Trout Unlimited; and Wyoming Wildlife Federation,
National Wildlife Federation, and Colorado Wildlife Federation, filing jointly. Approximately 230 comments were filed in response to the
- Section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA)
authorizes the Commission to issue preliminary permits for the purpose of enabling applicants for
a license to secure the data and to perform the acts required by section 9 of the FPA.
Section 9 of the FPA requires license applicants
to submit “[s]uch maps, plans, specifications, and estimates of cost as may be required for
a full understanding of the proposed project,” together with satisfactory evidence of
compliance with pertinent state laws, and “such additional information as the Commission
may require.” Section 5 of the FPA states that issuance of a permit shall be for the
sole purpose of maintaining priority of application for a license for up to three years
“for making examinations and surveys, for preparing maps, plans, specifications, and
estimates, and for making financial arrangements.”
- Wyco’s permit application seeks priority of application for a license for a project
that would divert the unused part of water allocated to the State of Wyoming and the State of
Colorado from the Green River Basin into a 501-mile-long pipeline for delivery to southeastern
Wyoming and the Front Range of Colorado for municipal and agricultural use. To develop the
hydro potential along the pipeline, the project proposes seven hydropower projects. As presented in Wyco’s application, these
hydropower projects are exclusively dependent on water from the proposed water supply
pipeline. However, this pipeline does not currently exist, and Wyco’s application
does not provide any information about the timeline for seeking and obtaining the necessary
authorizations for the construction and operation of such a pipeline.
- Wyco’s permit application presents maps with a single line drawn from the water supply
pipeline’s two proposed water withdrawal locations to its terminus near Pueblo, Colorado,
501 miles away. Wyco’s maps indicate that the water conveyance pipeline may cross
federal lands managed by BLM, FWS, and Forest Service. While Wyco only identified federal
land ownership on its maps, it is presumed that the water conveyance pipeline will also cross
state, county, local government, and private lands. Until a water conveyance pipeline is
actually built, authorizations have been obtained for a specific route, or the process to
identify a specific route has been substantially completed, Wyco will be unable to prepare
“[s]uch maps, plans, specifications, and estimates of cost as may be required for a full
understanding of the proposed [hydropower] project,” during a three-year permit term, as
required by section 9 of the FPA. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit is to maintain
priority of application for license while this information is gathered. Until some
certainty regarding the authorization of the pipeline is presented, Wyco will not be able to
gather and obtain the information required to prepare a license application for a proposed
hydropower project. Therefore, there is no purpose under the FPA for issuing a permit to
Wyco for its proposed hydropower project at this time. For this reason, Wyco’s
preliminary permit application is dismissed as premature.
The Director orders:
(A) The preliminary permit
application filed by Wyco Power and Water, Inc., on September 1, 2011, for Project No. 14263-000
(B) This order constitutes
final agency action. Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30
days of the date of its issuance, as provided in section 313(a) of the FPA, 16 U.S.C. §
825l (2006), and section 385.713 of the Commission’s regulations, 18 C.F.R. §
 Timely notices of intervention filed by the
Forest Service and state fish and wildlife agencies are granted by operation of Rule
214(a)(2) of the Commission’s regulations. 18 C.F.R. § 385.214(a)(2)
 Timely, unopposed motions to intervene are
granted by operation of Rule 214(c) of the Commission’s regulations. 18 C.F.R.
§ 385.214(c) (2011).
 16 U.S.C. § 802 (2006).
 16 U.S.C. § 798 (2006).
 In a letter dated October 5, 2011, the
Commission staff clarified that its only role associated with the proposed water supply
pipeline would be to authorize the construction and operation of any proposed hydropower
projects along the pipeline.