FERC Issues a New License for Upper American River Project in California


FERC issued a license last week for the Upper American River Project in California consisting of seven developments on the Rubicon River, Silver Creek, and South Fork American River in El Dorado and Sacramento Counties. The license authorizes Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to continue to operate the existing projects that have a combined capacity of 637.3 MW and to build a new project- the Iowa Hill pumped storage project which has an authorized capacity of 400 MW. The water for this off-stream project will be pumped from the Slab Creek resevoir, which will serve as the lower reservoir, to the proposed new reservoir- Iowa Hill reservoir- which will serve as the upper reservoir, to be constructed atop Iowa Hill. 

Coalition members have been participating in this licensing proceeding since 2002 and reached an agreement in 2007 to continue the operation of the projects and to restore and improve the Upper American River and its tributaries. Benefits will include improved flows, habitat for trout and Foothill yellow-legged frog, and whitewater boating.

The license is valid for fifty years.