Upper American River and Chili Bar Hydroelectric Projects

South Fork American River, Silver Creek, and Rubicon River, California.

Project(s) Profile & Licensee(s)

FERC Projects No. 2101 (Upper American River Project or UARP) and No. 2155 (Chili Bar) are co-located in the South Fork American River (SFAR) Basin, California, and are undergoing concurrent relicensing. The 7 megawatt (MW) Chili Bar Project is owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), operates as a run-of-the-river project, depends on water delivered from the UARP Project just upstream, and spills into the SFAR arm of Folsom Lake. The 688 MW UARP is owned by Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), and is located along the upper SFAR and its Silver Creek and Rubicon River tributaries in El Dorado and Sacramento counties. The UARP contains Seven Developments:

Loon Lake, Robbs Peak, Jones Fork, Union Valley, Jaybird, Camino, and Slab Creek/White Rock: These Developments consist of 11 dams/reservoirs (impounding > 425,000 acre-feet of water) and eight powerhouses. The Project also includes 11 transmission lines that have a combined length of about 180 miles, about 28 miles of power tunnels/penstocks, one canal that is 1.9 miles long, and about 700 developed public-use campsites.

Iowa Hill: SMUD has proposed to add the Iowa Hill Pumped Storage Development in its new License. Iowa Hill Dam/Reservoir and Iowa Tunnel pumps water back and forth between Iowa and Slab Creek reservoirs through the Iowa Hill Powerhouse (400 MW), providing a total of 1,088 MW when completed.

Chili Bar Project: Consists of Chili Bar Dam, which creates Chili Bar Reservoir on the South Fork American River, and a Powerhouse that generates 7 MW. UARPs White Rock Powerhouse discharges into Chili Bar Reservoir from UARP’s Slab Creek/White Rock Development.

Federally Threatened - Listed Species/ Species of Concern

Currently, there are no anadromous fish in the South Fork American River Basin (upstream of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s [USBR] Nimbus and Folsom Dams). However, a NMFS Biological Opinion on the USBR contains a “Reasonable and Prudent Alternative” for fish passage of the distinct population segment of California Central Valley (CV) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) over USBR’s Nimbus/Folsom Dams and into “some suitable location in the upper American River” (North/Middle/South Forks). Thus, it is reasonably foreseeable that CV steelhead may be reintroduced into the upper American River Basin and come under the influence of the P-2101/P-2155 Projects.

FERC Relicensing Status

Concurrent Alternative/Traditional Licensing Processes since 2001: SMUD, PG&E, and Relicensing Participants signed a Relicensing Settlement Agreement (SA) for the Projects in January 2007. NMFS was not a signatory to the SA. FERC incorporated the SA into its Final EIS on March 2008. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed its Biological Opinion for the Projects in September 2009 and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued its Section 401 Water Quality Certifications in November 2012 (P-2155) and in October 2013 (P-2101). The SWRCB’s 401 Certifications included terms to reopen the licenses if anadromous fish become reintroduced into the upper American River Basin within reach of the Projects.


Project information can be found at http://hydrorelicensing.smud.org/default.htm. A Project map found at http://hydrorelicensing.smud.org/project/proj_map.pdf. Additional information can be found at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC eLibrary: Dockets P-2101 and P-2155.