Project Updates

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Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will be used by the Commission to determine whether, and under what conditions, to issue a license for the Peabody Trout Creek Reservoir Project (Project). To support and assist the Commission's review, the Commission utilizes a public scoping process to ensure that pertinent issues are identified and analyzed,

On August 9, 2012, Peabody Trout Creek Reservoir LLC (PTCR) filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to file an application for a hydropower license, utilizing the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) as defined under 18 Code of Federal Regulations Part 5. In accordance with those regulations, a Pre-Application Document (PAD) was simultaneously filed with the NOI. The ILP is being utilized for the Project to streamline the licensing process through early issue identification and resolution, integration of other stakeholder permitting process needs, and adherence to established time frames for all stakeholders. The purpose of the PAD was to provide the Commission and other interested parties with background information related to the Project.

Hard copies of the NOI and PAD are available for viewing at the public libraries listed below.

Bud Werner Memorial Library
1289 Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
West Routt Library
201 East Jefferson Street
Hayden, CO 81639
Oak Creek Public Library
227 Dodge Avenue
Oak Creek, CO 80467

On September 5, 2012, the Commission mailed invitations to participate in the ILP for the Project to the Ute Tribal Business Council, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe and requested a response by October 4, 2012. No response was received from any of these tribes. Shana Murray, the Commission's Project Coordinator for the Project at that time, again contacted the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe multiple times by phone in October 2012. No response or indication of interest or involvement has been received to date.

The Commission invites participation in the scoping process and issued a Notice of Intent to File License Application, Filing of Pre-Application Document (PAD), Commencement of Pre-Filing Process, and Scoping Request for Comments on the PAD and Scoping Document, and Identification of Issues and Associated Study Requests (NOI) and a Scoping Document 1 (SD1) on October 5, 2012, to provide interested parties with information on the Project. The Commission solicited comments and suggestions on its preliminary list of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS, and requested that interested parties identify any studies that would help provide a framework for collecting pertinent information on the resource areas under consideration and necessary for the Commission to prepare an EIS for the Project.

A Project site visit for interested parties was held on October 24, 2012. Attendees met at the Steamboat Springs Community Center at 11 a.m. and car pooled to Peabody's Lodge adjacent to the Project site (see photo). There, attendees reviewed maps of the proposed Project area, walked certain boundaries of the proposed reservoir footprint, and car pooled to look at the Project site from various vantage points.

Also on October 24, 2012, a public scoping meeting was hosted by the Commission at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The meeting began at 7 p.m. The Commission's Project Coordinator made a presentation explaining the ILP (see schematic) and explained how to submit comments on the Applicant's PAD and the process for submitting study requests. The Commission also provided guidance on study request criteria (see short and expanded versions of these criteria). The Applicant presented an overview of Peabody Energy and the proposed Project. Handouts at the public scoping meeting included a Meeting Agenda, ILP Schematic, Peabody Trout Creek Reservoir Fact Sheet, and FERC's Hydropower Licensing – Get Involved, a Guide for the Public.

An agency scoping meeting followed on October 25, 2012, commencing at 10 a.m. at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The Commission and the Applicant made similar presentations to those made at the public scoping meeting on the 24th, and then a round-table discussion regarding the Project followed.

Both the public scoping meeting and the agency scoping meeting were recorded by a court reporter. The transcript of the public scoping meeting is available here, and the transcript of the agency scoping meeting is available here.

Comments on the PAD and study requests were due to the Commission by December 4, 2012. Copies of the comments and study requests received by the Commission can be accessed here.

On November 30, 2012, PTCR filed an Application for Preliminary Permit with the Commission. On December 4, 2012, the Commission notified PTCR that its Application for Preliminary Permit had been accepted by the Commission and requested that one copy of the Application be sent to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Branch of Realty Programs (CO-935) and one copy be sent to the BLM, Little Snake Field Office. PTCR transmitted a copy of its Application to those two BLM offices on December 7, 2012. Additionally, on December 4, 2012, the Commission issued a Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications for Peabody Trout Creek Reservoir LLC. The deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications with the Commission was 60 days from the issuance of that notice. The Commission received Motions to Intervene from American Rivers and the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District on PTCR's Application for Preliminary Permit.

On January 18, 2013, PTCR filed its Proposed Study Plan for the Peabody Trout Creek Reservoir Project with the Commission. Comments on the Proposed Study Plan were due to the Commission by April 18, 2013. Also on January 18, 2013, the Commission issued its Scoping Document 2 (SD2) in follow-up to its Scoping Document 1 (SD1) that was issued on October 5, 2012. The SD2 reflected the Commission’s current view of issues and alternatives to be considered in an EIS for the Project.

Copies of the Proposed Study Plan on disk were provided to the six landowners in the Project area on January 21, 2013 (see copy of landowner transmittals). Additionally, a letter was sent to those landowners and the stakeholder distribution list on January 22, 2013 that notified them of the availability of the Proposed Study Plan and invited them to participate in a Proposed Study Plan meeting held at URS Corporation, 8181 East Tufts Avenue, Denver, Colorado, 80237, on February 12, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m. The letter notified stakeholders that a conference call line would be available for anyone wishing to participate in the meeting who was not available to attend in person. A second invitation was mailed to the landowners and the stakeholder distribution list on January 23, 2013, noting that Wednesday, February 13, 2013, had been reserved as an additional meeting day at URS Corporation if all Proposed Study Plan items could not be covered on the 12th. The purposes of the Proposed Study Plan meeting were to clarify any questions that pertained to the Proposed Study Plan and explain any initial information gathering needs. Initial discussion items on the Proposed Study Plan were covered in one day at the Proposed Study Plan meeting on February 12, 2013, and as such, a second meeting day was not required.

On March 5, 2013, the Commission published an order issuing PTCR’s preliminary permit and granting PTCR priority to file a license application for the Project. Effective with that order, on the last day of the month following each six-month period from the effective date of that order, PTCR is required to file a study plan progress report that describes, for that reporting period, the nature and timing of what it has done under the pre-filing requirements of 18 CFR Sections 4.38 and 5.1-5.31 and other applicable regulations; and where studies require access to and use of land not owned by Peabody or PTCR, the status of PTCR’s efforts to obtain permission to access and use the land.

On March 15, 2013, PTCR filed a Revised Proposed Study Plan that contained updates made since the January 18, 2013 Proposed Study Plan in track change format. The updates made were those that resulted from the discussions that took place at the February 12, 2013 Proposed Study Plan Meeting and the subset conference calls that transpired following that meeting. PTCR also mailed a letter notifying stakeholders of the availability of the Revised Proposed Study Plan on March 15, 2013. That letter also contained a reminder to stakeholders that the review/comment period on the Proposed Study Plan extended through April 18, 2013. Additional subset calls and meetings took place following the Proposed Study Plan Meeting on February 12, 2013 (see the call notes for the subset conference calls relating to the water quality and aquatics studies call that took place on March 13, 2013 and the cultural resources study call that took place on March 21, 2013). On May 17, 2013, PTCR e-filed its Revised Study Plan with the Commission; that document reflected the updates that resulted from coordination and consultation with agency stakeholders following the March 15, 2013 filing. The Commission’s Determination on the Revised Study Plan was released on June 11, 2013. The Commission’s Determination indicated all 19 of the studies included in PTCR’s Revised Study Plan were approved as filed, and that pursuant to Section 5.15(c)(1) of the Commission’s regulations, the Initial Study Report for all studies in the approved study plan must be filed one year from the date of the Commission’s Determination (i.e., June 11, 2014).

Peabody completed the required key land acquisitions for the Project in the second quarter of 2013. Efforts to begin work for the various studies followed those land acquisitions, as described in the August 30, 2013, Study Plan Progress Report filed with the Commission and distributed to the stakeholder distribution list. In keeping with the ILP timeline, PTCR filed its second interim Study Plan Progress Report on February 28, 2014. Survey crews returned to the field in the spring of 2014 and work on several of the remaining resource studies and continued making progress on their studies; that progress was reported in the August 29, 2014 Study Plan Progress Report to the Commission, which was distributed to stakeholders the same day.

An Initial Study Report was electronically filed with the Commission on June 11, 2014, and paper copies of that report were mailed to the Bud Werner Memorial Library, West Routt Library, and Oak Creek Public Library for public viewing. Stakeholders were also mailed notice of availability of the Initial Study Report filing the same day.

On June 12, 2014, an invite to the Initial Study Report Meeting was mailed to the stakeholder distribution list, inviting stakeholders to participate in the Initial Study Report Meeting. The Initial Study Report Meeting was held in the 4 Main Conference Room of URS Corporation located at 8181 East Tufts Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80237, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (Mountain Daylight Time). The purpose of that meeting was to discuss the Initial Study Report with resource agencies and interested members of the public. An Initial Study Report Meeting Summary was electronically filed with the Commission on July 9, 2014 and a copy of that summary was mailed to the Project stakeholder distribution list.

Comments on any existing studies and/or requests for new/additional studies were due by August 8, 2014. To date, no comments or requests for additional studies or study modifications have been received. On September 5, 2014, PTCR e-filed its formal response to comments and distributed that response to its Project stakeholder distribution list.

Dan Haas, BLM-Colorado State Archeologist, contacted Gordon Tucker of URS/AECOM (PTCR’s Consultant on the proposed Project) on March 3, 2015, relative to the artifacts that URS’ cultural survey team collected during its field surveys in support of the Class III Intensive Pedestrian Cultural Resources Survey Study (the report for which was finalized and distributed in July 2014 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s [FERC’s] limited Cultural Resources Working Group for the PTCR Project, due to its privileged and confidential nature). Mr. Haas had reconciled BLM’s permit records with repository collection deposit records for the PTCR collections listed in the table below and requested follow-up by URS.


Permit Permittee Year Project Type Site Collection Accession #
C-62878 URS 2013 Inventory 5RT3247 and 5RT3248 MWC

Twentymile Coal Company was the landowner on record at the time the artifacts were collected from the sites listed in the above table. In compliance with URS’ BLM-Colorado Cultural Resource Use Permit No. C-62878, the artifacts inventoried either needed to be submitted for curation at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, Colorado or be returned to the lawful owner of the artifacts, Twentymile Coal Company. Upon notification of its rights to the said artifacts, Brian Yansen, the authorized representative from Twentymile Coal Company, exercised his company rights to hold free and clear title to the artifacts and specimens collected and to retain possession of those. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between Twentymile Coal Company and URS, and the artifacts and specimens were returned to the lawful owner on March 19, 2015 (completing URS’ commitments under BLM-Colorado Cultural Resource Use Permit No. C-62878). Mr. Haas, BLM, was notified of these actions in an e-mail dated March 25, 2015.

On April 15, 2015, PTCR e-filed and distributed an April 2015 Preliminary Draft Hydrology and Streamflow Assessment Study Report for the Project to the Stakeholder Distribution List for a 30-day review and comment period on the study methodology (which is the first phase of that study) being proposed. The transmittal letter that accompanied the report release requested comments/feedback be submitted by Friday, May 15, 2015, so that ample time for any follow-up contact was allowed and so FERC and PTCR could consider comments and feedback for current and future phases of the Hydrology and Streamflow Assessment Study. No comments or feedback were received on the April 2015 Preliminary Draft Hydrology and Streamflow Assessment Study Report; as such, the study is now proceeding as proposed.

A Second Study Report was electronically filed with the Commission on June 11, 2015, and paper copies of that report were mailed to the Bud Werner Memorial Library, West Routt Library, and Oak Creek Public Library for public viewing. Stakeholders were also mailed a notice of availability of the Second Study Report filing the same day.

On June 11, 2015, an invite to the Second Study Report Meeting was mailed to the stakeholder distribution list, inviting stakeholders to participate in the Second Study Report Meeting. The Second Study Report Meeting was held in the 4th Floor Main Conference Room of AECOM (previously URS Corporation) located at 8181 East Tufts Avenue, Denver, Colorado, 80237, on Thursday, June 25, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. (Mountain Daylight Time). The purpose of that meeting was to discuss the Second Study Report with resource agencies and interested members of the public. A conference call line and web connection was made available to those who were unable to attend that meeting in person. In accordance with the ILP, a Second Study Report Meeting Summary was electronically filed with the Commission on July 9, 2015, and a copy of that summary was also mailed to the Project stakeholder distribution list that day, with this transmittal letter. Comments on existing studies and any requests for modifications to existing studies and/or new studies were due by August 7, 2015. Four comment submissions were received: one from the Western Area Power Administration (Western) (an e-mail dated July 17, 2015), one from FERC (a letter dated July 28, 2015), one from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8 (a letter dated August 6, 2015), and one from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) (a letter dated August 7, 2015).

On August 6, 2015, under Section 5 of the Federal Power Act, PTCR requested a two-year extension for the Project, extending the date for filing a License Application to February 28, 2018 (extending the preliminary permit term by two years beyond the three years previously permitted, for a total term of five years). While PTCR intends to continue with this Project, the economics of the coal industry have impacted the ability of PTCR to continue with the significant capital investments needed to execute and complete the required resource studies this year to develop this Project. Additionally, PTCR needs a more intensive/longer hydrologic record to assess the viability of the hydropower component of this Project. Note that during the two-year time extension, PTCR will continue to submit semi-annual progress reports to the Commission, and pursue good faith and reasonable diligence efforts towards the development of this hydropower Project.

In response to FERC’s July 28, 2015 comment submission, PTCR e-filed and distributed an August 21, 2015 letter response that included an updated process plan and updated schedule as attachments. The updated plan and schedule reflect the revised dates and timelines through the filing of a License Application, based on the two-year extension request that PTCR filed on August 6, 2015, and that the Commission approved on September 11, 2015, via its Order Granting Extension of Term for Preliminary Permit.

In response to FERC’s, Western’s, EPA’s, and CDPHE’s comment submissions on the Second Study Report and Meeting Summary, and as required by the ILP, PTCR filed and distributed an August 21, 2015 Second Study Report Response to Comments. The Director’s Study Plan Determination on the Second Study Report was due October 5, 2015. PTCR was notified on October 7, 2015, that the Commission did not see any unresolved issues from the Second Study Report and associated meeting and comments that warranted a Director’s Determination. Therefore, the Commission opted not to file a Determination. Based on the comments received, PTCR plans to continue to progress the resource studies as described in the June 11, 2015 Second Study Report, and summarized in the July 9, 2015 Second Study Report Meeting, with the time and study extensions that result from PTCR’s two-year extension request that was filed on August 6, 2015. PTCR will modify the water quality sample protocols for sample analysis to comply with CDPHE’s stated requests, including the collection of hardness data. As noted in the July 9, 2015 Second Study Report Meeting Summary, PTCR will also consider and coordinate with Matt Rice, American Rivers, regarding his suggestion at the June 25, 2015 Second Study Report Meeting to share and discuss the hydrologic data and associated modeling and results, when available and organized, with stakeholders from the Yampa Valley (including a broader list than that reflected on PTCR’s current stakeholder list). PTCR looks forward to continuing resource study discussions and stakeholder involvement with the studies. PTCR filed and distributed its fifth Interim Study Progress Report on August 21, 2015; the next report will be filed on February 29, 2016.

Initial construction activities for the PTCR Project would consist of site clearing and foundation preparation within the dam and spillway footprint areas, and borrow area preparations (e.g., clearing and erosion controls). Embankment and spillway construction would progress in a logical manner, subject to sequencing preferences of the selected contractor. Powerhouse construction would likely be performed concurrently with dam construction and major earthwork activities would be limited to the months of May through October due to weather constraints.