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UPA is critical of FERC report


The Utica Power Authority board and staff say a environment assessment of the agency by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission contains some mistakes.

For the second time in as many days, the UPA board and staff met Thursday to decide how to respond to errors or omissions in the 201-page assessment with its six appendices.

FERC held a public meeting July 9 in Angels Camp, at which it heard comments from residents about the assessment and UPA.

UPA has been seeking a FERC license for its water and hydroelectric powerhouses since it was established in the mid-1990s. The July 9 meeting was the final public hearing concerning UPA's license application.

UPA must file its response to the assessment by Monday, July 29, for the comments to be considered by FERC.

Concerns expressed Thursday included water flow requirements, restrictions on UPA's ability to sell water, required studies (such as a requirement to survey for the California red-legged frog) and an array of what UPA officials call incorrect technical and financial details.

UPA's Attorney Chris Williams pointed out that although the environmental assessment focused on wet and normal-rainfall years, it was not specific about water flows during dry years. He and UPA General Manager Vern Pyle said the flow accounting requirements need to include detailed accounting for dry water years.

Williams also did not like the environmental assessment stating that UPA would need a license amendment to sell its water. Duane Oneto, a UPA board member and also a member of the board of Murphys-based Union Public Utility District (UPUD), said the document seemed to confuse the sale of water with the sale of water rights. That confusion must be cleared up, he said.

Williams was equally disturbed by the numbers of studies and surveys the environmental assessment seemed to require of UPA. "We need them to recognize that we're a tight little (enterprise) with limited resources," he said, "Don't routinely impose rote requirements on us."

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