(Last updated on Wednesday, April 13, 2022) – While the Elmore County Commissioners are reconsidering a previous decision to give Cat Creek Energy an extension on the construction of their large energy project, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told Cat Creek they legally need to file progress reports on the pump storage hydro electrical generating facility portion of the project. The progress report deadline Cat Creek should have submitted expired about two weeks ago or more specifically, March 31, 2022.
If Cat Creek Energy cannot even be bothered to submit a progress report to the US Government regarding the project they want to build on lands only 20 miles to the northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho, what makes the resident of Elmore County or the Elmore County Commissioners believe Cat Creek will follow through on any of the requirements set forth in the project’s Development Agreement between Elmore County and Cat Creek Energy, LLC.
Dear Mr. Carkulis: Article 4 of the successive preliminary permit1 for the above referenced project requires submittal of a progress report every 12 months. According to our records, the progress report due March 31, 2022, has not been filed. The failure to timely file a progress report warrants the cancellation of the preliminary permit. This letter constitutes notice under section 5 of the Federal Power Act of the probable cancellation of the preliminary permit no less than 30 days from the date of this letter. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Tust at (202) 502-6522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Signed ~
David Turner, Chief Northwest Branch Division of Hydropower Licensing
(Last updated on Saturday, April 9, 2022) – On February 11, 2022, the Elmore County Commissioners granted Cat Creek Energy a new two-year extension to begin construction on their massive energy project in the mountains northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho. This was both a mistake and outside the realm of their responsibilities in our opinion. In short, we believe the development agreement only allows an extension to be granted if the project is likely to be operational in two years. In fact, the project has barely begun the FERC approval process, has no water rights nor environmental impact report. The list is long but one thing we know is that Cat Creek Energy has consistently failed to meet most deadlines.
The S Bar Ranch has filed the following Request for Reconsideration motion with the county commissioners. A reconsideration public hearing with the county commissioners will be held on Friday, April 15, 2022, at 1:30 pm in the Elmore County Courthouse in Mountain Home. Prior to that public hearing, concerned citizens may file written comments regarding the proposed new extension until Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Comments will also be accepted at the Friday, April 15 hearing.
We hope you will let your Elmore County Commissioners know your thoughts and concerns about this extension.
Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street Mountain Home, ID 83647 Phone: (208) 587-2142 ext 1256 Fax: (206) 587-2120 www.elmorecounty.org
Date: March 23, 2022
To: Whom It May Concern
Subject: Notice of Public Hearing
Applicants: Merlyn W. Clark for S Bar Ranch LLC
Case #: Reconsideration of EOA-2022-01
Proposal: S. Bar Ranch appeals to the Elmore County Board of County Commissioners for reconsideration of Extension of Approval granted to CUP-2015-03, CUP-2015-04, CUP-2015-05, CUP-2015-06, and CUP-2015-07.
A public hearing will be held before the Elmore County Board of County
Commissioners (the “Board”) on Friday, April 15, 2022, at the hour of 1:30 p.m.
in the Elmore County Courthouse, downstairs in the Commissioner’s room, 150
South 4th East, Mountain Home, ID 83647, for reconsideration of the extension
of approvals granted to Cat Creek Energy, LLC Conditional Use Permits (CUP-
2015-03, CUP-2015-04, CUP-2015-05, CUP-2015-06, and CUP-2015-07).
The Board issued its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order on
February 11, 2022 (following a public hearing on February 4, 2022) for granting
a one-time two-year time extension for the five CUPs as provided for in the
Development Agreement signed on February 9, 2018. S Bar Ranch, LLC, filed a
timely request for the Board to reconsider its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Order and rescind the order for the approval of time extension(s) on
the CUP(s). The reconsideration request is reviewed by the Land Use and
Building Department under Elmore County Code 7-3-12. The Director has
conferred with the Board and the Board has granted a reconsideration hearing.
Please review the request and provide your written comments to the
Elmore County Land Use and Building Department, 520 East 2nd South Street,
Mountain Home, ID, 83647, by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, so your
comments are included in staff report. All interested persons shall be heard at
said hearing and the public is welcome and invited to submit testimony.
Testimony will be limited to reconsideration of extension(s) of the CUP(s).
The Elmore County Board of Commissioners is responsible for ensuring
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Any person
needing special accommodations to participate in the public hearing should
contact the Elmore County ADA Coordinator, Kacey Ramsauer, 24 hours prior to
the Public Hearing at 208-587-2142 ext. 1254, or email ADA@elmorecountv.org.
(Last updated on February 4, 2022) The developers of the proposed Cat Creek Energy (CCE) Project in Elmore County, Idaho are still trying desperately to move forward in 2022. For the past 5 years, CCE has insisted their project centered around a large-scale wind project and the creation of a new reservoir on Little Camas Prairie will solve water and energy problems in Mountain Home and the rest of Elmore County.
The Elmore County Commissioners are hosting a public hearing on Feb. 4, 2022, at 11 am in the county courthouse to determine if Cat Creek Energy should get a two-year extension for their highly complex project in our backcountry. It is our opinion that Cat Creek Energy has wasted enough of our government’s time trying to push through a project that will be more harmful to wildlife and tourism than can ever be recouped by the entire energy project.
Here is the public notice published on January 19, 2022:
BOARD OF ELMORE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING FOR EXTENSION OF APPROVALS GRANTED TO CAT CREEK ENERGY, LLC CONDITIONAL USE PERMITS (CUP-2015-03, CUP-2015-04, CUP 2015-05, CUP-2015-06. AND CUP-2015-07) BY ELMORE COUNTY AND A RESOLUTION GRANTING THE SAME
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on Friday, February 4, 2022, at the hour of 11:00 a.m. in the Elmore County Courthouse, downstairs in the Commissioner’s room, 150 South 4th East, Mountain Home, ID 83647, a public hearing will be held for extension of the valid time period for approvals granted to Cat Creek Energy, LLC Conditional Use Permits (CUP-2015-03, CUP-2015-04, CUP-2015-05, CUP-2015-06, and CUP-2015-07) due to a stay in proceedings occasioned by pending litigation.
The Elmore County Board of County Commissioners (the “Board”) entered into a Development Agreement on February 9, 2018, with Cat Creek Energy, LLC (the “Development Agreement”) for live Conditional Use Permits (CUP-2015-03 for Transmission Lines, CUP-2015-04 for Pump Storage Hydro Facility, CUP 2015-05 for PV Solar Power, CUP-2015-06 for Wind Turbines, and CUP-2015-07 for Electric Substation). The Development Agreement stated that “the Conditional Use Permits shall be valid for a period of time for five (5) years from February 10, 2017 and maybe extended for one 2-year period upon application to the Elmore County Land Use (and Building Department (“Department”).” The Extension of Approval requests are reviewed by the Land Use and Building Department under Elmore County Code 7-3-17. The code requires a hearing with the Board because the approval period for the live CUPs was established through the Development Agreement.
All interested persons shall be heard at said hearing and the public is welcome and invited to submit testimony. Testimony will be limited to extension of the valid time period for the five CUPs. The Board reserves the right to set time limits on testimony, and if implemented, the time limits will be announced at the start of the hearing. Anyone may submit written testimony prior to the hearing by sending it to the Elmore County Land Use and Building Department (the “Department”), 520 East 2nd South Street, Mountain Home, Idaho. 83647. The record for this matter may be reviewed prior to the hearing at the Land Use and Building Department and all the Elmore County Clerk’s Office, 150 South 4th East, Mountain Home, Idaho, during regular business hours.
A common way of locating the property from Mountain Home for the said CUPs, is to travel North on US 20 for 25.4 miles to Wood Creek Road, The center of projects is approximately 3.2 miles north on Wood Creek Road.
The Elmore County Board of Commissioners is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Any person needing special accommodations to participate in the public hearing should contact the Elmore County ADA Coordinator, Kacey Ramsauer, 24 hours prior to the Public Hearing at 208-587-2130 ext. 1254, via email VOIT, or in person at 520 East 2nd South, Mountain Home.
SHELLEY ESSL, CLERK BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ELMORE COUNTY, IDAHO
1 Publication: January 19, 2022
We will try to get the transcripts from this meeting if they are published on the county website.
Elk and mule deer migration patterns be disrupted.
The Cat Creek Energy site would be built within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, raptors, and fish and other animals like bats.
The Cat Creek Energy site would be built in important sage grouse habitat.
The Cat Creek Energy site would affect our fishery and water quality.
The Cat Creek Energy site would create unacceptable noise pollution on Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
On May 16, 2019, Judge Nancy Baskin will have the opportunity to hear oral arguments that support the fact that the actions of Elmore County in regards to the Cat Creek Energy project approval were invalid. As a result we expect the judge will remand the project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission as early as July of this year.
Below you can read for yourself another of the many reasons we believe Judge Baskin will rule that the CUP approval process and the subsequent 2019 Development Agreement between Cat Creek and Elmore County were legally and procedural flawed.
Another opponent of the Project, Wendi Combs, a resident of Pine, Idaho, testified that the Project does not belong on Anderson Ranch Reservoir. She stated that “according to Fish and Game, the proposed site does lie within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, raptors, and fish and other animals like bats.
The area is an important sage grouse habitat. Sage grouse do not like tall structures, such as wind turbines, power lines, and towers. Displacement, avoidance and reduced nesting success are well documented.
Fish and Game are concerned about water quality impacts, entrainment of fish, particularly the bull trout, and endangered species. “We’re not talking about one, but six silos pumping water up and down the reservoir 24/7, 365 days a year,” their words in quotes.
Then there is the noise pollution that will affect all the surrounding neighbors and campsites rendering them practically useless for solace and enjoyment.”
We invite you to read the full 64 pages of the Judicial Review document that S Bar Ranch filed with Fourth Judicial District of Idaho to right this Cat Creek Energy wrong.
Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.
The long, complex and contentious Cat Creek Energy project approval process started in 2016 and bit and pieces are still being worked out at the local level. While the Cat Creek Energy project still has some state and federal obstacles to overcome before they can officially ruin the Elmore County backcountry the S Bar Ranch isn’t sitting idly by.
On March 7, 2019, the owner of the S Bar Ranch filed a petition with the Fourth District Court asking a judge to review the decisions that Commissioner’s Bud Corbus, Al Hofer and Wes Wootan made regarding the nearly 4,000 acre Cat Creek Energy mega-project. The 64-page petition can be downloaded at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/ but we realize some resident don’t have the time to review such an extensive legal document, no matter how well it was written (it’s mostly plain language and tells a troubling story).
Just Some “Bit and Pieces” of the Document
Below you’ll find some actual snippets from the legal document to whet your appetite and give you a reason to spend a few hours reading about how entrenched the “good 0ld boy” network has become in our local government. So, here goes.
Page 9 / P & Z Deny all Conditional Use Permits in Aug 2016 On June 15, 2016, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z Commission”) met to consider the applications. The P&Z Commission heard testimony from the Developer, representatives of the Developer, and others individuals who supported the Project, some individuals who were neutral and several individuals who opposed the Project. On July 13, 2016, the Elmore P&Z Commission conducted deliberations of the applications for the CUPs. On August 17, 2016, the P&Z Commission unanimously, on a 6–0 vote with one member absent, voted to deny the applications.
Page 10 / The Project Does not Comply With County Ordinance The Commission made several findings that the proposed project conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan with regard to Private Property Rights Objectives, Land Use Objectives, Scenic Area Objectives, Hazardous Area Objectives, andAreas of Critical Concern Objectives. The Commission further found that the Project failed to comply with the applicable Zoning Ordinances, including Title 6, and the applicable State and Federal regulations.The Commission concluded that the Applications do not comply with the required findings set forth in Section 6–27–7 of the Zoning Ordinances.
Page 30 / Conflicts of Interest The Board of Commissioners have a conflict of interest that violates I.C. § 67-6506 and other law, and prevents them from serving as a neutral quasi-judicial body in this contested matter that is pending before the Board. The conflict arises from the fact that the County is requiring, as a condition for issuance of CUP-2015-04 and the other CUPs, that the Developer agree to divert and deliver water from Anderson Ranch Dam to the County using the Developer’s infrastructure. In other words, the County has a vested beneficial interest in approving the granting of hydro CUP and the other CUPs, which prevents the Board from serving as a neutral decision maker as required by law.
A further conflict of interest is created by the fact that Commissioner Hofer purportedly stepped away from his duties as a Commissioner and acted as a negotiator representing the County in negotiations with the Cat Creek representatives to reach agreement on the terms of the Development Agreement. Those ex parte communications were not disclosed to the Petitioner or the public. The Development Agreement, negotiated by Commissioner Hofer, was then submitted to Commissioner Hofer’s fellow Commissioners for their approval. Knowing that the terms of the Development Agreement submitted to Commissioners Wooten and Corbus had been negotiated and approved by Commissioner Hofer, there was no way that Commissioners Wooten and Corbuscould remain neutral and perform their duties as neutral decision makers regarding the terms of the Development Agreement.
Page 52 / The Board’s Decisions Violate Due Process Because Two of Its Members Had Ex Parte Communications with Cat Creek During the December 22, 2017, public hearing, CommissionerWootan acknowledged the Commissioners had been communicating among themselves regarding the project and decided they wanted to make the project work. In response to comments from a representative of Cat
Creek that they would work with the Board to put a deal together that works for Cat Creek and the County, CommissionerWootan stated: “We’re already to that point. We’ve already communicated among ourselves that we’re workable, that we want to make their project work, and we want to make our intent happen.” Obviously, the Board had decided to approve the project, regardless of the public’s input in the decision, in violation of due process.
The next court hearing will be on May 16, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Boise, Idaho before Judge Nancy Baskin. That is when S Bar Ranch will present oral arguments in support of our case and ask the judge to rule that the actions of the County are invalid and to remand it back to the Director of the Elmore County P&Z Commission.
We believe Judge Baskin will take the decision under advisement and render a written decision as early as July 2019.
Take Action Before it is too Late
There are many actions you can take that will send a clear message to the Elmore County Commissioners, the State of Idaho and even our federal government.
Contact the Elmore County Commissioners and tell them you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project.
Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to find a way to stop the Cat Creek Energy project before it ruins our Idaho backcounty, hunting grounds and fisheries.
Contact Senator’s Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Fulcher.
There are many people in and around Elmore County that still do not know about the Cat Creek Energy project and how badly it will affect wildlife, fishing, water quality and hunting. Please share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.