Avista owns and operates six hydroelectric plants on the Spokane River. On June 18, 2009, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a 50-year operating license to Avista for our Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, which comprises the remaining five of Avista’s six Spokane River plants (Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake). The license includes a variety of measures, many based on multi-stakeholder agreements, designed to protect and enhance natural resources connected with the Project and the Spokane River. The sixth plant, Little Falls, is operated under separate congressional authority and is not licensed by FERC.
New conditions that will be implemented in the project area will take place on a schedule that is set out in the license. These conditions detail the many actions Avista will take over the next half-century to protect and enhance fish, terrestrial, water quality, recreation, cultural and aesthetic resources related to the project. These are significant environmental measures, which provide value to the communities and the natural and cultural resources where our facilities are located.
Avista’s Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project includes Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids dams on the Clark Fork River in northern Idaho and Northwest Montana.
2010 marked the 11th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources of the area, signed in 1999 after several years of collaborative negotiation. It resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate both Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids. This single Clark Fork Project License took effect March 1, 2001, in an unprecedented issuance of the license by FERC a year before the existing Cabinet Gorge license expired.
As part of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, and with the oversight of the Clark Fork Management Committee, we began implementing protection, mitigation and enhancement measures in March 1999. Measures in the agreement address issues related to fisheries, water quality, wildlife, recreation, land use, cultural resources and erosion. The first 11 years’ implementation has led to a number of environmental success stories.
For specific details on land managed, protected habitats, biodiversity impacts and strategies, see our Spokane River Project FERC License, and Clark Fork Project FERC License.
Our protection, mitigation and enhancement expenditures in 2010 for implementing the Spokane River Project License were $3.5 million. For the Clark Fork River license implementation, we spent $4.6 million. These totals reflect environmental affairs activities associated with license implementation only, and as Avista practices environmental stewardship in all of our daily operations, including generation and production, the costs of doing so are absorbed throughout our capital and operations and maintenance budgets.