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Auburn, Calif,- The Placer County Water Agency will market its hydroelectric energy to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, under a power purchase agreement authorized for execution Thursday (Apr. 19) by the PCWA Board of Directors. 

The agreement was previously approved on Apr. 13 by the Middle Fork Project Finance Authority, the joint powers agreement formed by PCWA and the County of Placer to govern future output of the PCWA Middle Fork American River Project.

“It’s been a first-class collaborative effort between the agency and the county,” said PCWA Director of Strategic Affairs Einar Maisch, who recounted a three-year process to develop the new PG&E agreement.

Built by PCWA in the 1960s, the large water and power project includes two major reservoirs – French Meadows and Hell Hole – five hydroelectric power plants, and an extensive water storage and transmission system.

Annual power sales over the coming decade, before operation and maintenance costs, are anticipated to be in the $50 million range.  The new agreement runs through December 2017 and will allow PCWA time to move into operation under a new federal power license.  The agency’s original 50-year license expires in 2013.

The new energy sales agreement places top priority on a reliable supply of water to the lands and inhabitants of Placer County, while generating and maximizing revenues from the sale of electrical energy.  

To take effect, the agreement must also be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.  Maisch said the PUC participated in the contract development process and approval is anticipated.

As part of the discussion, PCWA leaders considered the 50-year historic significance of the Middle Fork Project, which in 1963-66 was the first project of its kind to be owned and developed by citizens of a California county.

Longtime agency legal adviser Edward J. Tiedemann spoke about the project’s original construction and power sale as a 1963 photo of the original signing ceremony was shown on a large screen.

 In other business, directors:

  •  approved a 2013 PCWA Power Division budget of $3.1 million.  The budget covers the first four months of the year and must also be approved by PG&E. Beginning May 1, 2013, the project will be funded through the new agreement which will no longer require PG&E approval.
  • approved the addition of four new employment positions needed for operation of the Middle Fork Project.  A drafting technician, hydrographer, electrical technician and a financial employee are expected to be hired near the end of this year.
  • heard a presentation from Leo Havener, general manager of the Foresthill Public Utility District, who said extreme financial shortfalls are putting future operations of the district at risk.  He said if the community does not support the local public utility district, a private water company from Southern California is waiting to step in.

 Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030. 

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