Utah Water Project Coordinator
2/6/2003 -- Salt Lake City, Utah -- PacifiCorp, state and federal resource agencies and conservation groups today signed a settlement agreement concluding negotiations about the future of the American Fork Hydroelectric Project near here in American Fork Canyon. PacifiCorp serves customers in Utah as Utah Power.
The agreement provides that PacifiCorp will close and decommission the small hydro project beginning in Sept. 2006. When the project was completed and went on line in 1907, there were no special designations for the lands where the plant is located. Today, the American Fork Project's footprint extends from inside the Uinta National Forest including portions of the Lone Peak Wilderness and into the Timpanogos Cave National Monument.
The agreement will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of a request to decommission the federally licensed project. FERC will conduct an Environmental Assessment to determine the final details of the decommissioning.
"This small generating resource has a history that predates even Utah Power," said Bill Eaquinto, PacifiCorp vice president for hydro licensing. "Today we are a little nostalgic about the past role that this small plant played in serving our customers along the Wasatch Front, but we are also very pleased to have reached a sensible conclusion with all the resource agencies and conservation groups that care for our public lands."
"All parties labored intensively to bring very sensitive and important issues to the table and worked collaboratively to identify common goals, said Pete Karp, forest supervisor for the Uinta National Forest. "That process served us well and resulted in this agreement today."
Scott Root, conservation outreach manager, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the settlement removes barriers to migration of the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout in American Fork Creek and will improve overall water quality. Alan Matheson of Trout Unlimited, added that the agreement is important to the families of the Wasatch Front whose experiences there will be forever enhanced as a result. "Trout Unlimited and its Utah members are proud to have been a part of the negotiations."
"The long-term result of this cooperative effort will be protection of the river, aesthetic, and recreational resources of Timpanogos Cave National Monument and the lower American Fork Canyon," said Karen Wade, director of the National Park Service's Intermountain Region.
"Timpanogos Cave superintendent Kit Mullen and the entire team that worked in partnership to produce this agreement are to be commended," she said. "The future of our public lands and the way of life we hold so dear depend on such successes."
Other participants in the settlement include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, and American Whitewater.
The American Fork Project can generate up to about one megawatt. This compares with PacifiCorp's generating capacity of over 8,000 megawatts. One megawatt can serve the needs of over 500 residential homes.
Under provisions of the agreement, the American Fork project will be operated until September 1, 2006, at which time decommissioning will begin. It is expected that facilities will be removed by the end of 2007.
In the early years, the Upper American Fork Project, as it was then known, served the electrical needs of the Utah communities of Lehi, American Fork and Pleasant Grove. It was built by Utah County Light and Power Company, which was eventually absorbed by Utah Power. An even earlier hydro project located downstream from the present project, known as the Lower American Fork Plant, was decommissioned before 1970.
PacifiCorp, through Utah Power and Pacific Power, serves 1.5 million customers in six Western states.
For more information: Alan Matheson, Trout Unlimited - 801-747-0747