Auburn, Calif.- In a special joint meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 10), the Placer County Board of Supervisors and Placer County Water Agency Board of Directors unanimously approved formation of a new joint powers authority.
The Middle Fork Project Finance Authority will be used by the two local government agencies to help finance a costly six-year process through which they intend to gain a new federal license for operation of the PCWA Middle Fork American River Project.
Over the long term, the authority will be responsible for future hydroelectric power sales. Once the relicensing process is complete and new power sales agreements are in place, future power sales are expected to produce multi-million-dollar annual revenues.
PCWA’s Middle Fork American River Project was built in 1963-67 and operates under a 50-year federal license that must be renewed by 2013. The project includes four reservoirs, seven dams and five power plants. It was the first project of its kind to be owned and developed by residents of a California county.
The Middle Fork Project stores 342,000 acre-feet of water and generates an average 1 billion kilowatt-hours of clean hydroelectric energy per year, enough to supply the needs of about 240,000 people. The power is distributed by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company under a 50-year contract that also expires in 2013.
The historic agreement was approved on separate unanimous votes of the two governing boards. Placer County Treasurer-Tax Collector Jenine Windeshausen and other staff members were lauded for their many hours of work in planning the new authority.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Santucci said today’s Placer County should be grateful to the community leaders of yesteryear who envisioned and developed the large water and power project. ‘The vision and thoughts of the people who were here in 1957 to 1975 have resulted in a tremendous investment for the people of Placer County,’ he said.
Alex Ferreira, chairman of the PCWA Board of Directors, said the bountiful water supplies created by the project — along with the resulting hydroelectric energy opportunities — will benefit Placer County for generations to come. ‘The water is the most important part of the whole project,’ Ferreira commented.
The Middle Fork Project Finance Authority will be governed by a four-member board with two Placer County supervisors and two PCWA directors. PCWA’s general manager will serve as its executive officer.
PCWA was formed in 1957 by a special act of the California Legislature. It was governed by the Board of Supervisors until 1975 when the board made it an independent water agency with its own governing board. As approved, the Placer County Water Agency Act
specifies that the Board of Supervisors must approve any sales of hydroelectric energy.
Staff of the county and water agency have been meeting and formulating the structure of the new Finance Authority for the past several months.