Hydroelectric project up for public comment | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hydroelectric project up for public comment

by Andy Bourelle

The El Dorado Hydroelectric Project – where water from the Echo, Silver and Caples lakes as well as Lake Aloha in the Desolation Wilderness and the American River is used for hydroelectric power generation – is going through a relicensing process. Public comment is being sought.

“The relicensing presents an opportunity to address existing environmental problems associated with the project,” said John Phipps, Eldorado National Forest Supervisor. “It also presents a unique opportunity to cooperate with other agencies, conservation groups, private enterprises and (members of the public) with interests in the project.”

A draft package of studies completed for the relicensing project is available.

“The Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit are very interested in learning from public comments on the draft package,” Phipps said. “The forests have attempted to identify necessary studies but look to the public for help in ensuring that the proposed studies will provide the information needed to develop appropriate measures to protect national forest resources.”

According to Beth Paulson with the Eldorado National Forest, a hydroelectric plant near Pollock Pines, Calif., uses water diverted from the sources to generate electric power for a limited number of customers. Also, after the water is used for power generation, a portion is used for consumption by some area residents.

Paulson said the license will expire in 2002.

Both the Eldorado National Forest and U.S. Forest Service are involved because the project is located on property belonging to both.

Once the studies are completed, the U.S. Forest Service will begin an environmental analysis that follows National Environmental Policy Act procedures. At the end of the process, the forest service will make a decision on the conditions that need to be included in the license to protect national resources.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will make the final decision on whether to issue the license for the project.

To receive a copy of the draft package or to make comments, contact:

Beth Paulson

Eldorado National Forest

Supervisor’s Office

100 Fomi Road

Placerville, Calif. 95667

(530) 622-5061

Officials would like comments by Aug. 31. An informal drop-in open house also will be held 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at that address.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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