On decommissioning – The Ukiah Daily Journal
For the publisher:
Dismantling: do you understand the ramifications?
On September 12, a Times Standard article appeared in the Ukiah Daily Journal titled “More Time Wanted for Potter Valley Takeover”. Given that The Times Standard is a Humboldt County publication, it’s understandable that the article focuses on comments from a set of interests. However, since the concept behind the ‘takeover’ of the Potter Valley project (or license renewal as it is more commonly known) has been dubbed a two-basin solution, the water requirements of the river basin Russian cannot be ignored.
Those who benefit from the water supply provided by the Potter Valley Project in Lake Mendocino MUST understand what decommissioning means. If current partners do not receive the extension request to continue working on license renewal milestones, the next decision of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may be to order PG&E, as current license holder, to enter a downgrading process. .
If this happens, the infrastructure connected to the Potter Valley project would be partially or fully retired within a specified time frame. This means that the Scott Dam and Pillsbury Lake, the water diversion infrastructure connected to the Van Arsdale Reservoir that carries water into the Russian River, and the power plant could be dismantled.
There is the potential for continued water diversion in the Russian River watershed, which is under discussion if a decommissioning process is initiated, but it is unclear what this would entail. Without storage infrastructure like the one currently available from Pillsbury Lake, it is guaranteed that there would be no diversion all year round. If diversions are only available during the high-flow winter months, questions arise as to how regulatory limitations and infrastructure limitations will allow for continuous diversion and the ability to store that water in Lake Mendocino. Additionally, if the decommissioning progresses, it is also unclear how the water will be supplied to Potter Valley.
Farm Bureau encourages all communities from Potter Valley to Hopland and beyond to take a good look at Lake Mendocino this year. Without the project water, Lake Mendocino will regularly look like this. The people, farms and fish that depend on the Potter Valley Project water supply in the Russian River Watershed cannot be ignored. If you are concerned about your water supply for the future, you should know what the ramifications of a decommissioning process would be and encourage local, state and federal officials to remember that any solution related to the future of the project must really be for two basins.
-Devon Jones, Executive Director of the Mendocino County Agricultural Bureau