Through a public notice and the diligence of our members and supporters, we recently learned of a proposal submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for construction of a large pump storage facility in the Wheeler Crest, Rock Creek and Owens River Gorge. Pump storage involves pumping water up-slope during times of low energy use/high energy production and then releasing it (in pipes in this case) downhill to create electricity when additional energy is required.
This massive proposed project would impact the communities of Round Valley, Paradise and Swall Meadows. The project is within habitat for the endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, and a Mule Deer migratory corridor, with potential impacts to other wildlife as well. The proposal includes the building of water storage reservoirs within the John Muir Wilderness, an act that is only allowed through executive branch approval. Rock Creek is an eligible Wild and Scenic River that the U.S. Forest Service and BLM are required to manage to protect its free flowing character. The company’s proposal lacks analysis of seismic activity, avalanche zones, and utility infrastructure creation. Friends of the Inyo is also extremely concerned about the social and economic impacts to recreation in Rock Creek and the Gorge including mountain biking, rock climbing and fishing.
FERC is currently reviewing the preliminary proposal application submitted by Premium Energy Holdings, LLC), a company with ties to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The FERC identifier for this project is Docket P-14984-000. Please visit the FERC website for more information and enter “P-14984” as the Docket Number on this webpage. You can also comment on the project and sign up for updates.
There is a strong coalition of conservation groups, residents, business owners, recreation and local government interests convening a rapid and robust response to this attack on the upper Owens Valley. Please contact Jora Fogg to become involved or stay tuned to these newsletters for more updates.