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Hydro on the Beaverhead?

by Paul Arnold

Westford Development, Inc., of Lenore, Idaho, has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting a Preliminary Permit to investigate the feasibility of a hydroelectric facility on the Beaverhead River at Clark Canyon Dam. The application was filed with FERC on 27 January 1998.

The George Grant chapter has learned that the granting of the Preliminary Permit to Westford would not authorize any construction. The Preliminary Permit, if granted, would simply assure Westford exclusive priority over its competitors on any such project for a three year period.

During that three year period Westford would have an opportunity to investigate the economic feasibility of a hydro site, study its environmental impact and make a decision as to whether to file an application for a license from FERC which, if granted, would entitle the applicant to proceed with the construction of a hydroelectric facility. Of course, no application for such a license has been filed, and it may never be filed.

The chapter has decided to file a Motion to Intervene in the existing proceeding (the application for a Preliminary Permit) in order to become a party to the proceeding and, thus, be kept informed of future filings and activities of Westford in connection with a hydro facility on the Beaverhead.

The intervention of the chapter is not in the nature of an objection to Westford’s application, but is to formally establish our status as an interested party in the FERC proceeding. The only real basis for an objection to the application for a Preliminary Permit would seem to be that the feasibility study itself would be harmful, and the officers of George Grant believe that no case can be made for that argument. Of course, if Westford later files an application for a license to build a hydro plant on the Beaverhead, and if the chapter believes that such a plant could be detrimental to the fishery, then the chapter can file its objections with FERC at that time.

For now, we’re just staying close to the situation, watching, listening and staying alert.

 

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Last modified: June 10, 1998