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Environmental Impact Statements (EISs)

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) evaluates relicensing of the Priest Rapids Hydroelectric Project (P-2114-116) in Washington State
Issued: November 17, 2006

The project is an existing, operating hydroelectric facility located on the Columbia River in Grant, Yakima, Kittitas, Douglas, Benton, and Chelan Counties, near the city of Ellensburg, Washington. The project occupies approximately 3,104 acres of federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Energy, Department of the Army, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project is licensed to Public Utility District No. 1 of Grant County (Grant PUD).

Along with their license application filed in 2003, Grant PUD recently submitted a settlement agreement for salmon and steelhead trout (filed in February 2006). In these filings, Grant PUD proposed environmental protection, mitigation and enhancement measures. FERC staff considered what if any, modifications to Grant PUD's proposed action would be necessary or appropriate with the continued operation of the project. Staff is recommending licensing Grant PUD's proposed action with modifications. Enhancement measures include: erosion and sedimentation control; improved water quality and quantity; improvement for anadromous and resident fish habitat, improvement for wildlife habitat, improvement for cultural resources, and recreation facilities upgrades. Staff did not recommend enhancement measures that are not project related; nor funding or implementation of enhancement measures as yet uncertain or unidentified.

Staff concludes that relicensing the Priest Rapids Project would provide a significant and dependable source of electrical energy for the region (9.75 million MWh annually); avoid the need for an equivalent amount of fossil fuel-fired electric generation and capacity, thereby continuing to help conserve these nonrenewable energy resources and reduce atmospheric pollution; and would adequately protect and enhance environmental resources and mitigate impacts of the project.

The overall benefits of this alternative would be worth the cost of proposed environmental measures and would outweigh the consequences of not implementing the other alternatives or of license denial.