Protect Hydroelectric Generation and Transmission Facilities

In Support of Legislation to Protect Hydroelectric Generation and Transmission Facilities, Located in Federal Watersheds, from the Threat of Catastrophic Wildfires

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Resolution 17-05
Sponsors: Placer County Water Agency; Northern California Power Agency

Under Section 10(e)(1) of the Federal Power Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assesses annual charges for federal land use by hydropower project licensees.  In 2015, FERC collected approximately $11.5 million.  After FERC collects the fees, they are allocated 12.5 percent to the U.S. Treasury, 50 percent to the federal reclamation fund, and 37.5 percent to the states in which the projects are located.  There is no direct nexus to the collection of these charges and active management of the federal lands where the hydropower projects are located.   

The American Public Power Association (APPA) recognizes that: (1) across the Western U.S., the average annual number of large fires (larger than 1,000 acres) burning each year has more than tripled between the 1970s and the 2010s; (2) the area burned by these fires has shown an even larger increase—in an average year, more than six times as many acres across the West were burned in the 2010s than in the 1970s; (3) the fire season is 105 days longer than it was in the 1970s, and is approaching the point where the notion of a fire season will be made obsolete by the reality of year-round wildfires across the West; (4) the increase in wildfires may double soil erosion in some western U.S. states by 2050, significantly degrading water quality; and (5) Western population is projected to grow by 310 million people by 2100, and will likely increase demand for diminishing water supplies.

NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED: That the American Public Power Association (APPA) supports active forest management by federal land management agencies, involving local/regional collaborations, to enhance the reliability of the electricity grid and reduce the threat of wildfires to hydropower facilities, electric transmission, and distribution facilities located on federal lands; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA supports efforts in Congress to redirect annual land use charges collected from hydropower project licensees to the licensees, to be used in collaboration with federal land managers, local government, and non-profit organizations, for projects to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire to hydropower facilities and to mitigate the adverse impacts to flow and water level management, wildlife, species management, and recreation in these critical watersheds; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA believes this approach supports hydropower project licensees with cooperative agreements or contacts with federal land management agencies to execute watershed management, right of way hazard mitigations, habitat protection, and restoration projects to mitigate the risk of wildfire and secure water supplies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA supports efforts by Congress to enact legislation that would provide hydropower project licensees that use federal lands with additional resources to collaborate with federal land managers to protect critical watersheds.