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Performance Report

Water Quality Certification Program

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 2155
Project Name: Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project (Chili Bar Project)


Chili Bar Dam
Applicant: Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)
County: El Dorado
License Expiration Date: July 31, 2007
Water Quality Certification Status: Adopted: May 7, 2013 (Order No. WQ2013-0018)
Waterbody: South Fork American River
FERC Licensing Process: Traditional Licensing Process

Project Description:

The Chili Bar Project is located near Placerville on the South Fork of the American River immediately downstream of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD’s) Upper American River Project.The Chili Bar Project consists of: (1) a concrete gravity dam that is 126 feet high by 380 feet long; (2) a 170-foot long dam spillway with a crest elevation of 997.5 feet (National  Geodetic Vertical Datum) located 31 feet below the top of the dam; (3) Chili Bar Reservoir with a surface area of 110 acres and a useable storage capacity of 1,339 acre-feet at the crest elevation of 997.5 feet; and (4) Chili Bar Powerhouse, which is 80 square feet containing a single turbine unit with installed capacity of seven megawatts.

The Chili Bar Project has limited reservoir storage. Typically, the Chili Bar Project stores the releases from SMUD’s White Rock Powerhouse during off-peak hours, and generates electricity during peak load hours. Therefore, flows downstream of Chili Bar Dam often fluctuate daily. Given that the White Rock Powerhouse has a flow capacity of almost twice that of the Chili Bar Powerhouse, it is common for the Chili Bar reservoir to fill to capacity and spill excess flows over Chili Bar Dam. The Relicensing Settlement Agreement for the Upper American River Project and Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project(Settlement Agreement) addresses the issues of inconsistent flow and limited storage capacity. Implementation of the cooperation agreement between SMUD and PG&E should regulate flows between the two projects and minimize situations leading to uncontrolled spills over Chili Bar dam.

State Water Board staff have been involved throughout the FERC relicensing process (which began in 2001), and provided guidance during the Settlement Agreement process. The Settlement Agreement addressed the majority of issues raised during the relicensing process and the draft water quality certification includes many of the terms of the Settlement Agreement, with minor changes.

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