SMUD goes with the flow

The yellow-legged frogs of the American River soon may have more spring in their step. That’s thanks to a settlement reached between SMUD and environmental and recreational groups regarding the utility’s hydroelectric dams on the upper American River. (See “Uneasy balance,” SN&R News, November 9.)

“I think it was a good compromise. It works for everybody” said Jim Shetler, assistant general manager of SMUD. “I am very happy we got there.”

The increased water flows on the American will help wildlife, anglers and boaters. But it also will be a bit of a drain on the system’s electricity supply. SMUD customers may see a slight increase in their power bills.

“As for a rate impact, we’re real unsure right now,” Shetler said. “We don’t think it will be overly burdensome on our ratepayers.”

The deal ends a period of tension between SMUD, local environmental groups and federal regulators.

“We were literally hours away from a full-blown, adversarial, quasi-legal proceeding when a settlement was reached. It was a bruising experience.” said Ron Stork, Friends of the River. “I hope that SMUD takes pride in what they’ve done.”