Yuba County Water Agency looking to purchase PG&E powerhouse on Yuba River | TheUnion.com

Yuba County Water Agency looking to purchase PG&E powerhouse on Yuba River

Jake Abbott
Special to The Union

The Yuba County Water Agency could boost its capacity to generate electricity on the Yuba River if negotiations are successful with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to purchase the Narrows 1 Powerhouse.

The agency announced on Wednesday it is negotiating with PG&E to purchase the powerhouse. No estimate on the dollar amount was yet available.

Although the capability of Narrows 1 Powerhouse to generate 12 megawatts would provide the agency some marginal economic generation value by selling the electricity on the open market, it pales in comparison to the agency's biggest facility – New Colgate Powerhouse, which has the ability to produce 340 megawatts.

But there's greater value in acquiring Narrows 1, said Alex Boesch, public information specialist with the agency.

YCWA already owns Narrows 2 Powerhouse, which is on the opposite side of the Yuba River from its counterpart, just below Englebright Dam.

Currently, YCWA and PG&E have to coordinate operations of the two powerhouses in order to provide flows into the Yuba River downstream of Englebright Reservoir. Acquiring the PG&E facility would simplify that coordination.

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"YCWA is the natural entity to assume ownership of Narrows 1 Powerhouse because of its synergy to our current infrastructure," YCWA General Manager Curt Aikens said in a press release. "We already balance all of our regulatory requirements for water releases below Englebright Dam, so from an efficiency standpoint, this purchase makes sense."

Aside from making it easier to coordinate and fulfill regulatory minimum flow requirements, acquiring the facility now would help prevent any potential conflicts with future owners and maintain a level of flexibility in how water is released from Englebright Dam, according to the press release.

Boesch said the purchase of Narrows 1 Powerhouse could take up to two years to complete.

Jake Abbott is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact him at jabbott@appealdemocrat.com.

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