May 3, 2012

County sends letter opposing Long Canyon project

by Charli Engelhorn, staff writer, The Times-Independent, 3 May 2012

The Grand County Council will send a letter of concern to Secretary Kimberly D. Bose of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding a proposed hydroelectric storage facility in Long Canyon. Council members voted unanimously to repeat the action taken by the council in 2008, the first time the proposal was discussed.

Utah Independent Power, Inc, Nevada filed a preliminary permit Jan. 12 to perform feasibility studies in Long Canyon for the Long Canyon Pumped Storage Project. The deadline for filing comments regarding the application is May 22.

“We don’t dare not respond and not get on the list of stakeholders and be involved,” council member Audrey Graham said at the council’s May 1 meeting. “I would move that we send this letter so they know we exist and are watching this.”

Frank Mazzone, president of Utah Independent Power, previously told The Times-Independent that his company plans to build two reservoir pools in Long Canyon that would take water from the Colorado River and alternately pump it back and forth through turbines to create energy that would be added back into the electric grid.

The council’s letter states that Long Canyon, “a popular, historic, and economically important road for Grand County,” would be highly impacted and that the local office of the Bureau of Land Management did not support this sort of project in its resource management plan for the area.

“The fact that this applicant company is established for this one project may mean that there are no assets or a larger company backing it up,” the letter states. “Where would this leave the project and Grand County if the company goes under?”

The council also said the proposed location of the ponds would detract from the natural beauty of the canyon.

If the preliminary permit is accepted by FERC, it is only the first step in the process, said FERC officials, and does not authorize any construction. Mazzone said the plan for the project is almost identical to the 2008 plans. He said the project was abandoned in 2008 because of funding interests in an Arizona project.

Comments regarding the project may be submitted online at Select the e-library tab in the “Documents and Filings” menu and enter project number P-14354 in the docket search field. Call 866-208-3676 for more information.

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