Random relicensing facts
The devil’s in the details
• Lake Oroville is the first major facility on the West Coast to undergo FERC relicensing, owing to a wave of water-project-building that began here in the late 1950s. To gain perspective on the relicensing process, local negotiators have looked extensively at recent relicensing battles over the St. Lawrence and Niagara projects in New York state.
• There are several options for entities like DWR to settle differences involved in relicensing. In the case of Lake Oroville, DWR chose the Alternative Licensing Process (ALP), which calls for all those affected by the project to work toward a settlement that becomes part of the FERC application. The $440 million DWR is proposing for lake recreation is Appendix A of the license, and Oroville’s Special Benefit Fund is Appendix B.
• A late entry into the process, developer and land banker Dan Korhdt, claimed recently to have hired a FERC-knowledgeable attorney to lobby the commission on behalf of his company, Loafer Creek, LLC. A call to the law firm was not returned. Korhdt owns land around the lake and thus stands to profit from state investment in recreation. However, Korhdt told the CN&R recently that he was only after greater public disclosure.
• FERC can grant a power-generation license for up to 50 years, but it may grant a 30-, 40- or even year-to-year license. The county is lobbying for a 30-year license, while DWR wants the full 50 years.
• A key issue in relicensing is accountability. When locals claimed DWR broke promises in the past, FERC ordered DWR to fund the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC). But after hearing nothing but criticism from the group for years, DWR cut its funding. A new commission is being proposed, but it is unclear how future DWR promises will be enforced.