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Environmental Impact Statements (EISs)

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Priest Rapids Hydroelectric Project (P-2114-116)
Issued: February 24, 2006

On October 29, 2003, Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Washington (Grant PUD) filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) an application for a new license for the 1,768.8-megawatt (MW) Priest Rapids Hydroelectric Project No 2114-116, located in portions of Grant, Yakima, Kittitas, Douglas, Benton, and Chelan Counties, Washington. The project is composed of two developments, Priest Rapids and Wanapum. The project is an integral part of the seven-dam mid-Columbia River Hydroelectric System, which is the single largest coordinated hydroelectric system in the country. The Priest Rapids Project is operated in coordination with other mid-Columbia hydroelectric projects that utilize project storage to reshape the inflow hydrograph to help meet hourly changes in electricity demands.

On July 23, 2004, the Commission issued an order, 108 FERC 62,075 (2004), amending Grant PUD's license and authorizing the replacement of the 10 turbines at the Wanapum development with 10 new, upgraded turbines over a period of about 8 years. Grant PUD proposes to replace the 10 existing turbines at the Priest Rapids development beginning in 2017 and extending through 2023, assuming the existing turbines have reached the end of their useful life. Upon completion of the proposed turbine upgrades at both developments, the total Priest Rapids Project capacity would increase from 1,768.8 MW to 1,994 MW, an increase of 225 MW over the current installed capacity.

The Commission staff concludes that the protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures proposed by Grant PUD, combined with the additional measures recommended by the staff, would adequately protect and enhance environmental resources and mitigate impacts of the Priest Rapids Project. The project would provide a significant and dependable source of electrical energy for the region.

The primary environmental measures are as follows:

  • Develop and implement erosion and sediment control measures related to project land-disturbing activities;

  • Implement a water temperature monitoring plan for waters potentially affected by the project;

  • Manage flow releases to protect fish habitat downstream from the Priest Rapids Dam in accordance with the Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Protection Program Agreement;

  • Continue to operate and maintain two adult fishways at each dam according to Fishway Operating Plans and seek solutions and cost-effective corrective actions if monitoring and evaluation identifies adult fish passage problems;

  • Install permanent downstream fish passage facilities at both dams for juvenile salmon and steelhead;

  • Implement an avian hazing and control program to improve smolt passage survival through the tailraces of Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams;

  • Annually provide $1,096,552 to the Priest Rapids Project Habitat Fund to mitigate for a 2 percent per development unavoidable loss of upriver salmon and steelhead stocks;

  • Enhance riparian/wetland habitat within the lower five miles of Crab Creek and the Priest Rapids Wildlife Area;

  • Develop and implement a terrestrial and aquatic invasive species plan;

  • Develop and implement plans to protect threatened and endangered species and species of special concern;

  • Finalize a historic properties management plan; and,

  • Develop and implement a final recreation resource management plan.

After receiving comments on the DEIS, the staff will prepare a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The Commission will take into consideration the staff recommendations contained in the FEIS when they take final action on the relicensing application.

Comments on this draft EIS can be eFiled.