Protecting Public Health and Safety


Project 184

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El Dorado Hydroelectric Project

Picture of Project 184 water system
Project 184 system

Owned and Operated by El Dorado Irrigation District Under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission License 184

Project 184 License History
In 1922, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the first hydroelectric license for Project 184. The license, issued to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), was valid for 50 years and expired in 1972. The second FERC license was also issued to PG&E with an expiration date of February 23, 2002. The project was transferred to El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) on April 2, 1999, and EID filed an application for new license (relicensing), which was published in the Federal Register on February 11, 2001.

On June 26, 2001, a number of interested stakeholders agreed to engage in a public, collaborative process with the goal of executing a multiple-party settlement agreement that would resolve outstanding issues for the project's relicensing. FERC prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) containing background information, analysis of impacts, and support for related license articles. The EIS was issued on March 7, 2003.

On April 29, 2003, EID submitted the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agreement was signed by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, California Department of Fish and Game, County of Alpine, Citizens for Water, County of Amador, Friends of the River, the American Whitewater Affiliation, and several individuals.

FERC Approves License
On October 18, 2006, FERC issued a new 40-year license for Project 184.

The new license, which expires October 1, 2046, contains requirements for operating the 20-megawatt El Dorado hydroelectric power generation project that are estimated to cost EID approximately $40 million over the 40 years, including provisions for maintaining year-round minimum flows and existing recreation, regulating lake levels, monitoring of aquatic conditions, enhancing fish habitat, adding a boat launch facility at Caples Lake, and other actions.

License Compliance
FERC issues licenses for the operation of hydropower projects under provisions of the Federal Power Act. Licenses contain requirements known as conditions, that are presented as a series of license articles with which the licensee must comply. As a licensee, EID cannot modify project operations or works prescribed by the license without prior approval by FERC. FERC and other agencies expect a licensee to understand, observe, and monitor license compliance requirements throughout the life of the license.

The El Dorado Hydroelectric Project is located on the South Fork of the American River (SFAR) and its tributaries, and on Echo Creek, a tributary to the Upper Truckee River, in the Counties of El Dorado, Alpine, and Amador, California.

The Project includes:
Four storage reservoirs (Lake Aloha, Echo Lake, Silver Lake, and Caples Lake)
Diversion dam and several smaller diversions on tributaries to the SFAR
Water conveyance facilities consisting of flumes and tunnels
Forebay, penstock, and powerhouse
The Project components occupy both private lands and land administered by the Eldorado National Forest (ENF).

Two of the reservoirs, Lake Aloha (formerly referred to as Medley Lakes) and Echo Lake, are located approximately five miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County, at elevations (spillway crests) of approximately 8,114 and 7,405 feet above mean sea level (msl), respectively. Caples Lake is located in Alpine County at an elevation of about 7,794 feet above msl, and Silver Lake is located in Amador County at an elevation of about 7,250 feet above msl.

Diversion Dam
The El Dorado Diversion Dam is located on the SFAR, about 1.5 miles downstream of the town of Kyburz, at an elevation of 3,910 feet above msl. The dam diverts water from the SFAR into the 22.3-mile long El Dorado Canal.

Water Conveyance
The Canal, including flume, tunnel, and temporary pipeline sections, traverses steep slopes on the south side of the SFAR. The Canal terminates at the El Dorado Forebay, located just north of Pollock Pines, at an elevation of about 3,787 feet.

The Forebay regulates water into a surge tank and through a penstock into the El Dorado Powerhouse, located on the SFAR at an elevation of 1,880 feet above msl. Power generated at the El Dorado Powerhouse is delivered to the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) transmission and distribution system at the Powerhouse switchyard. The forebay also regulates water for consumptive water supply into El Dorado Irrigation District's Main canal.