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FERC Extends Deadline on Upper American River Project (CA)

Posted: 11/18/2006
by Dave Steindorf

On Thursday November 16th the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took a rather unprecedented step of changing the filing deadline of the agency terms and conditions on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District‘s (SMUD) Upper American River Project (UARP) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Chili Bar Project.  By postponing this filing deadline, FERC helped all parties continue the negotiation process to reach settlement and avoided the triggering of the Energy Policy Act, which would have potentially had a negative impact on reaching a settlement.   The timing of this postponement, a day before the filing deadline, was a nail biter of epic proportions for all of the Agencies, NGOs, and Utilities that had been feverishly working on through the settlement process.

    The primary reason that FERC granted this extension was that over the past three weeks significant progress has been made towards reaching settlement on these two projects.  An agreement in principle had been reached late on Tuesday, was submitted to FERC on Wednesday, and a conference call with over twenty stakeholders and FERC was held on Thursday.  The purpose of the discussions was to avoid the Energy Policy Act from being initiated on Friday, November 17, 2006, the settlement deadline.  The fear was that once the Energy Policy Act came into play, organizations would be distracted from the settlement process by its erroneous deadlines and the entire settlement could have been in jeopardy.  Several months ago settlement discussions with SMUD had completely stalled, however, with encouragement from local boaters and other key stakeholders SMUD’s management was persuaded to restart discussions.  

    Whitewater boating had been one of the critical elements of disagreement between SMUD and the Agencies and NGO’s.  This project, which includes Chili Bar on the South Fork American, is the most heavily utilized whitewater resources in California.  It also includes runs on the South Fork Silver Creek below Ice House reservoir and the Slab Creek Run on the South Fork American. Over the past several weeks intense negotiations and a willingness on both sides to compromise in order to seek solutions has resolved virtually all of the substantive issues for both projects.  The group hopes to reach final settlement in the next two months, thanks to FERC’s assistance in allowing us the time to complete the process.
Dave Steindorf
4 Baroni Drive
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-343-1871

Associated Rivers

American, S. Fork CA
American, S. Fork CA