DeSabla-Centerville Hydroelectric Project

Butte Creek & West Branch Feather River, California.

Project Profile & Licensee

FERC Project No. 803 is located on Butte Creek and West Branch Feather River (WBFR) in Butte County, California. The 26.4 megawatt (MW) Project is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The Project includes three developments: Toadtown, DeSabla, and Centerville.

Toadtown Development: Hendrickson Dam diverts water from the WBFR, and its two Project Reservoirs (Round Valley and Philbrook), into the Butte Creek basin via the Hendricks/Toadtown Canal and Long Ravine. From Hendricks/Toadtown Canal, water goes through the Toadtown Powerhouse (1.5 MW) and on into the DeSabla Development.

DeSabla Development: Butte Head Dam on upper Butte Creek diverts water into Butte Canal. Butte Canal joins the Toadtown Canal, water flows into DeSabla Forebay (formed by DeSabla Dam), and then flows through DeSabla Powerhouse (18.5 MW) into Butte Creek. A small amount of water also flows from DeSabla Forebay into Upper Centerville Canal to satisfy water users (connecting later to Lower Centerville Canal).

Centerville Development: Lower Centerville Dam diverts water from Butte Creek (downstream of DeSabla Powerhouse). Water flows down Lower Centerville Canal, into Centerville Powerhouse (6.4 MW), and is discharged into Butte Creek. Additionally, there were, originally, 12 “feeder creek” diversions (4 each on Butte, Hendricks/Toadtown, and Lower Centerville canals). However, when the Project is relicensed there will only be a feeder creek diversion each on Lower Centerville, Butte, and Hendricks canals. In addition, relicensing will result in a fish ladder and canal fish screen on the Hendricks Dam facilities.

Federally Threatened - Listed Species/Species of Concern

  1. The distinct population segment (DPS) of California Central Valley (CV) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and its critical habitat;
  2. The evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of spring-run Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) and its critical habitat;
  3. The ESU of CV fall-run Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) [Species of Concern]; and
  4. Any resident rainbow trout (O. mykiss) (as this form may exhibit an anadromous lifestyle periodically).

The limit of anadromy is at Lower Centerville Dam on Butte Creek. The “most-viable” population of CV spring-run Chinook salmon exists in Butte Creek.

FERC Relicensing Status

Integrated Licensing Process since 2004: PG&E filed its Final License Application in 2007. FERC issued its Final EIS in 2009. In February 2014, PG&E announced its intent to decommission the Centerville Development (no NOI filed as yet). Because of this, NMFS anticipates finalizing the Biological Opinion for the Project in late 2014. The State Water Resources Control Board is working on the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Project.


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC eLibrary: Docket P-803.