Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 2266

Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Project

Chicago Park Powerhouse Chicago Park Powerhouse
Image provided by State Water Board staff

Applicant: Nevada Irrigation District (NID)
County: Nevada, Sierra, Placer
FERC License Expiration Date: April 30, 2013
Water Quality Certification Status: Final Issued - August 14, 2020
Waterbody: South Yuba River and Bear River
FERC Licensing Process: Integrated Licensing Process

Project Description

The Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Project (Project) is located on the Middle and South Yuba River, and the Bear River in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The Project involves the transfer of water from the Middle and South Yuba River to the Bear River basin. Access to the Project is primarily via US Highway 80 between the cities of Auburn and Truckee, with a series of public, private, and United States Forest Service maintained paved and dirt roads.

The Project is composed of 13 dams (with a combined usable storage of 210,823 acre-feet); four water conduits; four powerhouses (combined capacity of 79.32 MW); one 9.0 mile-long, 60-kilovolt transmission line; 17 campgrounds and associated boat launches, trails and other recreation facilities; and other appurtenant facilities and structures. NID proposes some modifications to existing project facilities in its Final License Application (FLA), most notably the addition of a second powerhouse with new power generation equipment below Rollins Reservoir, immediately adjacent to the existing Rollins Powerhouse.

Other measures that have been included in the FLA are increased instream flows below dams and diversion structures, monitoring aquatic and terrestrial abundance and health in and around the Project, and additions or improvements to existing recreation features associated with the Project.

Coordination with the Upper Drum-Spaulding and Lower Drum Hydroelectric Projects
NID closely coordinates the operations of the Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Project with Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Upper Drum-Spaulding Project (FERC Project No. 2310) and the Lower Drum Project (FERC Project No. 14531). The projects overlap in part in the Yuba River and Bear River basins. Many of the projects’ facilities are hydraulically interconnected, including facilities that are used to meet water supply demands in Nevada and Placer counties. All three projects have licenses that expired on April 30, 2013. FERC recognized the interrelated operations of the projects and intends to prepare a multi-project environmental impact statement that will be used by FERC to determine whether, and under what conditions, to issue new hydropower licenses to each project. Additionally, PG&E has requested the term of its projects new licenses be the same as the license term for NID’s Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Project, to continue to facilitate the coordination of operations and relicensing.

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