Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Category Archives: Water

FERC Requests Info from Cat Creek Energy

Proposed Cat Creek Energy Project

In a previous post dated Feb 26, 2019, we highlighted the fact that the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy (CCE).  This is a request regarding a successive preliminary permit application for their Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project.
The Cat Creek Energy project will get more complicated as the developers start interacting with state and federal entities before they can move ahead with the project.  We feel it’s important for all Elmore County residents to understand the entire process.

Reference: http://catcreek-energy.com/ferc-request-cat-creek-provide-additional-information-by-march-8-2019/

We Think It’s Important to Understand the FERC Requests For Information

The FERC has requested Cat Creek Energy provide information, action and/or documentation regarding two different issues.  These requests apply to their bid to use public land and infrastructure for the pumped storage hydroelectric portion of their mega-energy project.  This project will affect the backcountry of Elmore County, Idaho.

Background for FERC Request #1: Cat Creek Energy wants to build a new reservoir, including a dam on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir. They will use water from Anderson to fill their 100,000 acre/foot reservoir.  This will require using six, 15-foot diameter pipes/penstocks.

The bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir. It thrives because of the pristine and stable environment found within the South Fork of the Boise River basin, including Anderson Ranch. The bull trout is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Government.

FERC Request #1: The FERC has requested that CCE show proof of the actions and/or geotechnical studies they have, or will commission in the future, regarding how they will mitigate the effects that their pumped storage hydroelectric project will have on the threatened bull trout.
Remember, the bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir, just 1,000 feet from their planned dam/reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. The two reservoirs will be interconnected if Cat Creek gets the approval to move ahead with the project.

By Brambleshire – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17074506

 

Background on FERC Request #2: Cat Creek Energy entered into a “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation has indicated that CCE has yet to provide the required funding to move ahead with the lease agreement.

FERC Request #2: The FERC has requested CCE initiate and memorialize the critical payments and actions required by the “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) agreement.

 

Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to fully respond to these two Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requests for information.

 

 

FERC Request Cat Creek Provide Additional Information by March 8, 2019

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy, LLC regarding their planned Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project on Little Camas Prairie. Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to answer the questions contained in the “Schedule A” document located at the bottom of this post.

The letter and Schedule A can also be directly downloaded here … http://catcreek-energy.com/download/874/


FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D. C. 20426
February 21, 2019

OFFICE OF ENERGY PROJECTS

 

Project No. 14655-001–Idaho
Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility
Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project
Cat Creek Energy, LLC

 

James Carkulis
Cat Creek Energy, LLC 398 S. 9th Street, Suite 240
Boise, ID 83702

Subject: Additional Information Request Dear Mr. Carkulis:

After reviewing your successive preliminary permit application filed on November 9, 2018, for the Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project No. 14655-001 and the comments filed on the application, additional information is needed to continue processing your application. Please provide the information requested in Schedule A within 15 days from the date of this letter.

The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file the requested information using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs- filing/efiling.asp. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14655-001.

If you have any questions concerning this letter, please call Karen Sughrue at (202) 502-8556.

 

Sincerely,

~ signed ~

For David Turner,
Chief Northwest Branch
Division of Hydropower Licensing

 


Enclosure:  Schedule A
Project No. 14655-001

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

1. In section (iii) of Exhibit 2 of your application, you request a waiver of section 4.81(c)(2) of the Commission’s regulations, which requires the filing of a work plan for new dam construction. S Bar Ranch, LLC, in its motion to intervene and protest, objects to this waiver request.

Section 4.81(c)(3) of the Commission’s regulations allows the Commission to waive the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) upon a showing by the applicant that the field studies, tests, and other activities to be conducted under the permit would not adversely affect cultural resources or endangered species and would cause minor alterations or disturbances of lands and waters, and that any land altered or disturbed would be adequately restored. The federally listed bull trout and its critical habitat are within the proposed project boundary at the Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Neither your permit or the project record clearly describes if you intend to conduct geotechnical studies during the term of the successive permit.

If you intend to conduct geotechnical studies, you must either demonstrate that the studies will not affect cultural resources or endangered species and result in minimal disturbance to land and waters, or file a work plan. In the latter case, the work plan must contain: (i) a description, including the approximate location, of any field study, test, or other activity that may alter or disturb lands or waters in the vicinity of the proposed project, including floodplains and wetlands; measures that would be taken to minimize any such disturbance; and measures that would be taken to restore the altered or disturbed areas; and (ii) a proposed schedule (a chart or graph may be used), the total duration of which does not exceed the proposed term of the permit, showing the intervals at which the studies, investigations, tests, and surveys, identified under this paragraph are proposed to be completed.

2. As explained in your original permit, the proposed project would require a Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Letters filed by Reclamation on April 4, 2017 and January 31, 2019, indicate that you have begun that LOPP process by receiving approval from Reclamation on October 17, 2016 to be a preliminary leasee for a five- year period. The January 31, 2019 filing also indicates that you have entered into a contributed-funds-agreement contract with Reclamation on May 9, 2017. However both letters indicate that you have not provided the required funding for Reclamation’s review of the project, entered into a preliminary LOPP agreement with Reclamation, or begun conducting the studies required by Reclamation to evaluate project impacts. The letters also indicate that Reclamation does not intend to commit resources to processing your proposed project until the required funding is provided. Reclamation’s January 31, 2019, filing states that if you are still interested in this project that it is critical to initiate these steps to attempt to complete the required LOPP steps by October 16, 2021.

Therefore, please file an update on your efforts at conducting the LOPP process steps with noted in Reclamation’s January 31, 2019 letter.

 

 

Comment on Cat Creek Energy’s Hydro Project by March 20, 2019

Take Action

Low water conditions on Anderson Ranch Reservoir on Aug. 17, 2018.

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) is actively soliciting your comments regarding Cat Creek Energy’s “Pump Storage Hydroelectric Generating Facility.” The S Bar Ranch, Chris Stephens and many locals who oppose the entire project hope you will provide feedback to our federal government, too.

The goal is to protect Anderson Ranch Reservoir for the people of Elmore County.

How to File a Comment with the FERC

Go To: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/27/2018-25813/cat-creek-energy-llc-notice-of-successive-preliminary-permit-application-accepted-for-filing-and

Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp

Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp.

FYI: You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments.

Below, you will find some of the issues we believe the federal government should seriously consider before allowing Cat Creek Energy to build a hydroelectric generating facility on the shores of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

The more comments the feds receive, the harder they will look at this project.

What is Pump Storage Hydroelectric?

What is this “ Pump Storage Hydroelectric Generating Facility” that Cat Creek Energy (CCE) is trying to build on Little Camas Prairie? In theory, it goes something like this …

  • CCE digs out the shell of a reservoir on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE drills six 15 foot diameter tunnels from that new shell of a reservoir down to Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE siphons 100,000 acre/feet of water up those bluffs to fill that new reservoir.
  • Once that phase of the project is completed …
  • CCE will release a large amount of water from their reservoir back into Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • That water will be run through turbines located at or near the south shore of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE collects that hydroelectric power and sells it to consumers in Washington, Oregon and California via a maze of transmission lines they plan to construct.

The Problems Associated With the CCE Pump Storage HydroElectric

  1. Water Quality: All local reservoirs have had toxic blue-green algae health warnings issued on them during 2017 and 2018 except Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
    The proposed Cat Creek Reservoir will likely experience a blue-green algae bloom soon after it gets filled. And then, Cat Creek will dump that toxic soup into Anderson Reservoir.
    Many people fish, boat and swim in this water. We think it should be kept clean of any blue-green algae source.
  2. Endangered Species: The endangered Bull Trout thrives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir because of the near constant water temperatures at depth. Cat Creek Energy will dump 1000s of gallons of warm and stagnant water back into Anderson, raising the local water temperature. Studies have suggested the Bull Trout will be adversely affected by this warming.
  3. Water level issues in Anderson: The physical act of removing water from Anderson Ranch Reservoir will affect the lake levels. However, massive summertime evaporation and domestic/agricultural use of the water will surely lower the warm season levels of their reservoir. CCE will then need to siphon additional water out of Anderson during the summer to prevent their reservoir from running dry just when we need that water in Anderson the most. Studies show our kokanee salmon fishery in Anderson will be mightily threatened by the CCE hydroelectric facility.
  4. Electrical Transmission Lines: CCE plans to run many high-tension electrical transmission lines between their different projects. Those lines will likely run from the bluffs above Anderson Reservoir and along the Highway 20 corridor. Many studies show that those massive towers greatly affect tourism and the viewshed.

Please consider giving your feedback to our government about the ill-conceived Cat Creek Energy Project.

The Feds are Accepting Comments on a Portion of the Cat Creek Energy Project

Power lines will be running over and through this portion of the Prairie

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appears to be worried that Cat Creek Energy hasn’t funded their portion of the Contributed Funds Act agreement for the proposed Energy Generation Facility Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project planned for the Little Camas Prairie area northeast of Mountain Home.

How do we know this? According to a letter sent from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to Mr. James T. Carkulis, a managing representative of Cat Creek Energy, LLC, the FERC is surely concerned.

Reference: Download the FERC Letter at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/840/

“Subsequent to finalization of the contract 20 months ago, CCE has not yet provided funding to Reclamation.” FERC on 30 Jan 2019

Crazy Complexity of the Cat Creek Energy Project

We know in 2016 that the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission would not approve the five Cat Creek Energy conditional use permits they submitted to build a sprawling 5,750-acre energy generating facility in our backcountry.

We also know in 2017, the Elmore County Commissioners ruled against their very own P & Z Commission and approved all five of those conditional use permits (CUP).

We also know Cat Creek Energy (CCE) told the residents of Elmore County many, many times that all five portions of their very complex project needed to be approved and built in order to make the CCE Project financial viable.

And we also know this project is so complex it’s hard to keep the major players in the project straight. Remember there are water, wind, solar, hydroelectric, power line runs and a host of state/federal concerns.

So when the federal government gives the developers of the Cat Creek Energy project an additional three years to get their “ducks in a row” just to complete a few tasks involving one portion of their five-part energy project due to the complexity, we know it’s time to step back and reevaluate the entire project.

 

What’s Our Main Concern About the Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project

Our main concern pertains to maintaining the water quality and fishery in Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

 

What Can You Do?

You have until March 20, 2019, to submit comments and motions to intervene,
on the successive permit application for the Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility
Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project No. 14655.

How to File a Comment with the FERC

Reference: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/27/2018-25813/cat-creek-energy-llc-notice-of-successive-preliminary-permit-application-accepted-for-filing-and

 

Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp

Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp.

You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments.

Please Share

If you find the information in this post informative and useful, please share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. Many residents of Elmore County are still unaware of what Cat Creek Energy will be doing to our backcountry.

Understanding the 10,000 Pages of the Complex Cat Creek Energy History?

This is the future with Cat Creek Energy

Can you really understand the Cat Creek Energy project just by reviewing the 10,000 or so documents created by the numerous hearings and meetings? Could you afford to obtain all the documents related to this complex project? Keep in mind, you’ll probably be charged $3,000+ just to get the digital files. With that said …

The Elmore County Commissioners just gave the Cat Creek Energy lawyers another six months to hammer out a water diversion and delivery agreement with the county for this ill-advised and ill-conceived project. And during that Dec. 14, 2018 hearing the history of the project became even more complex.

After years of backroom dealings, legal wrangling, last minute changes, hearings, and deliberations, we don’t know how many documents currently make up the history of the proposed Cat Creek Energy project slated for our nearby backcountry. No one knows how many pages of documentation has been created in a vain attempt to get approval for this project. And that is a problem.

The project? Just 20 mile or so up Highway 20, outside of Mountain Home, Idaho, a Gooding-based corporation plans to construct a 5,750-acre mega-energy project that also includes the construction of a 170,000 solar panel energy plant.

This is the current history without Cat Creek Energy

Two years ago, in November 2016, the county commissions figured there were 8,000 pages of testimony already in existence. One month ago, in November 2018, an Elmore County Commissioner testified again that there were still about 8,000 pages of testimony and evidence. We believe there is likely much more documentation and there is just too much information lying around in boxes within county offices to allow the Cat Creek Energy project to move forward.

The public, the commissioners and likely even the developers are a little confused as to how this project will move forward without harming the residents of Elmore County. And we think it important that the people who will be greatly affected by the project’s 500-foot tall wind turbines, a 590 acres of solar panels, countless high tension electrical transmission lines and an Anderson Ranch draining reservoir to understand its long and complex history.

So, here is a shortened version …

Part 1: 2016 – Feb 2018 History of the Cat Creek Energy Project

In 2016, Cat Creek Energy, LLC submitted five Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”) applications to Elmore County for various projects in the County’s Agriculture and Area of Critical Concern Overlay Zones. The projects include the installation of:

1. Transmission lines (“CUP-2015-03”);

2. Pump storage hydro-electrical generating facility (“CUP-2015-04”);

3. PV solar electrical generating facility (“CUP-2015-05”);

4. Wind turbine electrical generating facility (“CUP-2015-06”); and

5. Substation (“CUP-2015-07”), (collectively the “CUPs”)

The projects are collectively referred to herein as the “Proposed Development.”

June 15, 2016 / July 13, 2016: The CUPs came before the Planning and Zoning Commission of Elmore County, Idaho (the “Commission”) on June 15, 2016, for a public hearing, and on July 13, 2016, for deliberation. Evidence was presented to the Commission that the CUPs were in conflict with the Comprehensive Plan of Elmore County and would have a negative impact on the “surrounding area.”

July 13, 2016: After finding that the CUPs were dependent on each other and could not exist separately, the Planning and Zoning “Commission” of Elmore County, denied the approval of the CUPs.

In its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order, the “Commission” found, among other things, that the issuance (or approval ) of the CUPs would have a negative impact on the surrounding area as well as other properties in the area. Approval would have a negative effect on the scenic characteristics and visual aspects of the area.

Summer 2016: Cat Creek appealed the Commission’s Decision to the Elmore Board of County Commissioners (“Board” or BOCC).

November 16, 2016: The “Board” held a hearing on the appeal of the Commission’s Decision on November 16, 2016, at which time Cat Creek presented new evidence for the first time that materially changed Cat Creek’s applications for the CUPs, including a new master site plan of the integrated Proposed Developments. This new evidence was not properly noticed as part of the hearing.

January 13, 2017, February 3, 2017, and February 10, 2017: The “Board” / BOCC held deliberations on the appeal of the Commission’s Decision on January 13, 2017, February 3, 2017, and February 10, 2017.

During the deliberations on February 10, 2017, the Board issued its lengthy Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order (February 2017 Order”), which had obviously been prepared prior to the February 10, 2017 “deliberations”.

In its February 2017 Order, the Board affirmed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s finding that the five separate CUPs were dependent on each other and could not exist separately.

However, the BOCC reversed the Commission’s Decision and provisionally approved the CUPs subject to certain conditions that had to be satisfied by the Developer before construction of the Proposed Development.

The “Board of County Commissioners retained jurisdiction of the conditional use permit application process and as a condition for the approval of the CUPs, required the execution and recordation of a “Development Agreement” by and between the County, Cat Creek, and the entities owning the land (“Landowners”) where the Proposed Development was to be located.

The February 2017 Order expressly provides that the Developer could not proceed with the Proposed Development until the Development Agreement was executed between Cat Creek, the County, and the Landowners, and recorded in Elmore County.

January 2017 through February 9, 2018

Over the course of approximately one year, Cat Creek, the County, and the Landowners met on several occasions to draft, discuss and negotiate the terms of the Development Agreement.

The Development Agreement was signed by Cat Creek, the Landowners and the Elmore County Commissioners on February 9, 2018, and recorded on the same date.

The Development Agreement that was approved materially altered the terms and conditions of the CUPs that were approved in the February 2017 Order. The material alterations include:

  • A new master site plan that was never presented to the public for consideration.
  • The Development Agreement that was executed and recorded excludes the terms and provisions for the hydro component—CUP 2015-04, for the diversion and delivery of water by the Developer to the County, which is a major component of the Proposed Development.

 

Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement with Elmore County Gets its First Amendment

During the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

Spoiler Alert: The county commissioners agreed to give Cat Creek Energy, LLC more time to renegotiate certain water issues at the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

The Hearing

In a nutshell, this is what happened at this 30-minute public hearing. The first amendment of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County in regards to the mega-energy project slated for our backcountry was approved during a public hearing and deliberations on December 14, 2018.

The approved amendment, however, was merely to give the county and the Gooding-based corporation extra time to negotiate the Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements portion of a joint development agreement. The original date to hammer out the details was December 31, 2018. The new date to agree on those water issues is now officially, June 30, 2019.

If the county and Cat Creek Energy cannot come to an agreement by June 30, 2019, the conditional use permits (CUP 2015-04) will lapse.

There were four individuals who testified against giving Cat Creek Energy additional time to hammer out the agreement and one individual who was neither for nor against the amendment. The interesting thing to know and understand is, Cat Creek Energy did not publicly testify at this meeting. There was one Cat Creek lawyer in attendance and she did not give us any reason for why they require more time. That could be important.

FYI: CUP-2015-04 deals with the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir and its Pump Storage Hydro-electrical Generating Facility.

Reference:

More to Come

Expect a follow-on post regarding this issue where we will discuss some of our thoughts about what happened and what didn’t happen at this and other related public hearings.

Did You Know – New Water Right Elmore County ‘v’ Cat Creek Energy

  • Did you know the water right Cat Creek Energy wants to use for the pump-storage hydroelectric plant portion of the mega-energy project in the backcounty of Elmore County hasn’t even been created or permitted yet? It’s a proposed water right.
  • Did you know the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County has been said to be so complex that both parties wanted delays before agreeing to the water delivery portion for 10 months so they could sort out all the complexities?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy is asking for more time to sort out all the problems with the complex water delivery agreement?
  • Did you know that Elmore County also applied for the same proposed water right from the South Fork of the Boise River/Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Cat Creek Energy is in competition for the same water that Elmore County is asking IDWR for.
  • Did you know the United States Forest Service has concerns about Cat Creek Energy siphoning water out of Anderson Ranch Reservoir?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would control any flow of water from their proposed and far-from-federally-or-state approved Cat Creek Reservoir on Little Camas Prairie to points downstream into the Mountain Home area?
  • Did you know that the proposed Cat Creek Energy owned reservoir would sit on the edge of the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Who builds a reservoir 800 feet above a pristine body water and doesn’t expect something to go wrong.
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would also use that reservoir for their partner’s cattle ranching and farming operations?
  • Did you know that for the past two summers (2017 and 2018) Little Camas Reservoir has a toxic blue-green algae health advisory issued for that body of water? In addition, the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir will be interconnected to both Anderson Reservoir and Little Camas Reservoir increasing the likelihood of blue-green algae contamination in Anderson Ranch Reservoir?

 

What Can You Do?

Call or write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners with a delivery date on or before Dec. 14, 2018 stating why you oppose the amendments to the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County.

Phone: Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131  and/or Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294

Write:
Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street 
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

Attend the 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 14, 2018.

More information about the hearing, phone numbers and mailing address can be found at http://catcreek-energy.com/event-cat-creek-energy-public-hearing-for-amending-the-development-agreement-with-elmore-county/

Spread the word about the Dec. 14, 2018 meeting. At least one county commissioners believe that because very few people attend these hearing the issues aren’t important to the residents of Elmore County.