Pine Creek Mine Hydroelectric Project

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 12532

Pine Creek Mine Pine Creek Mine Facilities
(Image provided by Glenn Lukos Associates)

Applicants: Pine Creek Mine, LLC
County: Inyo
Water Quality Certification Status: Issued August 25, 2020
Waterbody: Morgan Creek, Pine Creek
FERC Licensing Process: Integrated Licensing Process

Project Description

The proposed 1.5-MW Pine Creek Mine Hydroelectric Project (project) is located at Pine Creek Mine (PCM), north of Bishop, California in northern Inyo County. PCM lies upstream of the confluence of Morgan Creek and Pine Creek, both tributaries to the Owens River Basin. The proposed project would involve the installation of a hydroelectric turbine within an existing mine adit. The project would use an existing concrete plug in the mine to store groundwater in existing tunnels, creating a gross head of up to 1,320 feet for power generation. The quantity of groundwater draining into the adit ranges based on the season, with an average inflow estimated at 10 cubic feet per second. Other project features, including portals, electrical wirings and access routes, are all existing. Apart from upgrades to the existing substation and staging equipment, no construction activities would occur outside of the mine tunnels. PCM proposes to operate the project as a “run of the mine” operation, thereby releasing flows at the same rate as inflows. The proposed project will generate an estimated average energy production of 5,600,000 kWH/year.

Project History:

The project site is identified as a private inholding, surrounded by United States Forest Service land.  The PCM ended its tungsten extraction operations in 1991, after over 75 years in operation.  Although mine activities are currently inactive, remnant mining structures still exist on-site.

Summary of Licensing Process and Consultation:

PCM filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) on February 29, 2008 to license the project and is using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Integrated Licensing Process.  The Final License Application (FLA) for the project was filed with FERC on February 12, 2016.  A revised FLA was filed on July 8, 2016. On August 30, 2016 PCM filed an application for water quality certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act in support of their FERC application for an original license.  FERC filed an Environmental Assessment on February 12, 2018.

Related Documents

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)