Nevada Hydro resubmits LEAPS application to FERC
A license application for a controversial power project that would greatly impact the Temescal Valley scenic view could be approved at any time by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
FERC is reviewing the application resubmitted by Nevada Hydro Company Inc. to build its Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage (LEAPS) project in the Cleveland National Forest with 32 miles of 500 kV transmission lines and 170 high-voltage steel towers.
ACTION NEEDED NOW
Comments can be submitted to FERC via its eComment page — use an Internet Explorer browser:
Follow the directions on the page. It’s best to prewrite your comments in a Word doc and then copy and paste into the eComment template. FERC prefers that comments be kept short and to the point. The docket number is P-14227.
Comments also can be snail-mailed to:
The Honorable Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20426
Begin your comments with:
Re: Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project
Project Number 14227
Comments to The Nevada Hydro Company’s May 31, 2017 Notification of Intent to File License Application
Letters should be copied to Jim Fargo at the above FERC address. He has primary responsibility for the LEAPS project and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 202-502-6095.
The plan calls for water from Lake Elsinore to be pumped at night into a to-be-constructed reservoir and then returned via gravity to generate electricity through turbines.
One set of transmission lines would run northeast across the Santa Ana mountains then head east, crossing Temescal Valley and the I-15 to connect to Edison’s Valley-Serrano lines that run across the Temescal Mountains. Glen Eden, Terramor, Sycamore Creek and Horsethief Canyon Ranch would be the closest communities to the lines.
The other set of lines would head southwest from the pumped storage facility to connect with San Diego Gas & Electric lines.
The project’s intent is to provide additional electricity during peak power usage and to replace electrical output lost with the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
The project was originally submitted in 1995. FERC initially approved the application in the early 2000s but then dismissed it in 2011 because of uncertainty over whether Nevada Hydro had rights to use Lake Elsinore water.
The previous project partner, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD), backed out of the project and terminated its agreement with Nevada Hydro in 2011. A lawsuit on the water rights issue is scheduled to begin before a San Diego County Superior Court jury on Sept. 22.
The WeAreTV Development Committee is sending a letter to FERC outlining reasons why the application should be denied:
DOWNED POWER LINE SAFETY: According to the Riverside County General Plan’s Temescal Canyon Area Plan, the Temescal Valley portion of the project would traverse a very high wildfire susceptibility area, a 100-year flood and dam inundation zone, and a seismic activity area associated with the Elsinore Fault Zone. Weather-wise, the project lies in the Elsinore Convergence Zone noted for extreme weather patterns including tornados.
The lines would cross both the I-15 freeway and Temescal Canyon Road, the only two north-south evacuation routes in Temescal Valley in case of a major disaster. There are no east-west roadways into or out of the area.
CHANGE IN CONDITIONS: Riverside County has approved land use changes to property adjacent to and under the planned transmission lines since the project’s dismissal in 2011. New development has been constructed. A draft Federal Environmental Impact Statement under National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), guidelines was released in January 2007 — 10 years ago. The impact of such an intensive project should be studied under current conditions, not those of 10 or 20 years ago.
CONSERVATION: The lines would traverse land area within the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA), jurisdiction. Construction of the towers and associated facilities would disturb endangered and threatened species of animals and plants protected by the RCA’s Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
VISTAS: The transmission towers, lines and the construction of related facilities would impact the view from the I-15 freeway, which has been designated a State Eligible Scenic Highway.
EDISON PROJECTS: The final Environmental Impact Report has been released for Edison’s Valley-IvyGlen transmission lines and the Alberhill Substation. A public hearing on these projects soon will be scheduled by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). If approved, Edison’s 115 kV subtransmission lines will cross the I-15 freeway almost exactly where the Nevada Hydro transmission towers are proposed.
LACK OF STATE APPROVALS: FERC has indicated it may grant the new application with no additional review. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there is only an outdated Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project that was never approved. There is no current project application before the California Public Utilities Commission.
The following entities already have sent letters opposing the project and/or requesting State and local agency review:
City of Lake Elsinore
California Department of Fish and Wildlife