Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hopes to move forward with LEAPS

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is seeking to move forward with its recently approved application filing on a renewable energy project that would use the city of Lake Elsinore as one of its base sites, regardless of Lake Elsinore City Council’s opposition to it.

The city council voted April 9, to voice their opposition to Nevada Hydro’s Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage Project concerns regarding safety, ranging from the effects on water quality, disrupting the ecosystem and structural concerns involving building a large dam that could be potentially hazardous to the city.

According to the initial project filing with FERC, the project will encompass Lake Elsinore and San Juan Creek, as well as San Diego counties, taking up 845 acres of federal land.

The LEAPS project was created by the Nevada Hydro Corporation to build large pump storage facilities to house and provide renewable energy to Southern California on a massive scale, which would include the installation of 32 miles of power transmission lines which, according to the Leaps Hydro website, the overall project would help with meeting emission reductions in California. It is estimated that the project will cost nearly $2 billion to implement.

The LEAPS project was initially submitted to FERC by Nevada Hydro through first submitting a notice of intent, followed by a licensing process.

The project has been in the planning stages for a long time – an initial report was filed in January 2007 but the company needed to re-assess transmission alignment conflicts as outlined in the final environmental impact statement.

In FERC’s initial filing process, once a project is submitted and initially reviewed, it has to be determined if it is in compliance with National Environmental Policy Act requirements on things like impact on recreational use of lakes, waterways, ecosystems and the greater public.

If the proposal meets National Environmental Policy Act standards, it moves on to recommendations provided by federal and state agencies.

Some concerns directly reflected on the impact of water quality are outlined in a final report put forth on behalf of Nevada Hydro, submitted by an independent study to the project, Michael A. Anderson, Ph.D., professor of environmental science at University of California Riverside in correlation to LEAPS.

The study conducted by Anderson was in response to needs made by FERC and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, creating a 3D model reflecting a simulation of the project and its potential impacts.

Anderson’s simulation of the LEAPS project showed that it would potentially help to distribute dissolved oxygen throughout the lake, which would improve water quality. It was hoped that this report would help potentially negate concerns made by public comments during the April 9 Lake Elsinore City Council meeting.

The LEAPS project is now available for public inspection and can be found on at www.federalregister.gov. The project was determined by the commission staff to be a “major infrastructure project” and was published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Aug. 2.

As of that date, the project had been accepted for filing, but “is not yet ready for environmental analysis at this time,” according to the Federal Register. Lake Elsinore filed a motion to intervene, Aug. 30.

Anderson’s research has been made available online to the public since Jan. 30.

While the notice filed is up for public inspection, the document does not yet give viewers the capability to submit or read public comments. The last day to file a motion to intervene, or protest, is Sept. 24.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.