FERC: It’s dam costly

There was glee in Counsel Bruce Alpert’s voice Tuesday (May 22), as he told the Board of Supervisors that staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had confirmed what Butte County has been arguing for years: Oroville Dam has been costly to the county.

The verification comes in the just-released final environmental-impact statement on the state Department of Water Resources’ application to relicense the dam for 50 years. The county has insisted—and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove—that the dam and Lake Oroville cost it some $12 million in lost tax revenue and service expenses that the state should reimburse. FERC came up with a lower figure, $8.6 million, but as Alpert reminded the board, “when we started this, everyone told us we’d get nothing.”

Whether FERC’s validation will lead DWR to bargain “in good faith” remains to be seen. “I don’t know how they can look at this and not see that this project damages us,” Alpert advised the board.