LIHI Certificate #21 - Buffalo River Project, Idaho

The Project is located within the Targhee National Forest where the reservoir surface area covers less than 5 acres and has a drainage area of 36.7 square miles. The Buffalo River Project is the only dam located on the Buffalo River. It was reconstructed in 1994 after it was destroyed by a fire in the 1970s and currently has an installed capacity of 250 kW.

The Buffalo River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 1413) is operated under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on November 5, 2004 (Appendix A). Article 402 of the 2004 FERC license was additionally amended August 10, 2005 (Appendix A) to better define the facility’s run-of-river operation.

When operating at normal maximum operating level, the Project reservoir has a surface area of approximately 1.9 acres. The Project operates as a run-of-river facility and has very negligible storage volume/ capacity. The Project’s primary features include the dam, spillway, intake structure, penstock, powerhouse, and fishway. The project boundary occupied by primary project features, not including the reservoir, is 0.1 acre of United States land within the Targhee National Forest. The dam is a 142-foot-long by 12-foot-high timber-faced rock-filled diversion dam with a 40-foot-long by 3-foot-high concrete slab spillway with stop logs. The concrete intake structure contains a 5-foot steel slide gate. The penstock is 52-foot-long by 5-foot-diamater concrete encased steel pipe. The masonry block powerhouse is 34-foot-long by 22-foot-high. The fishway is 270-feet-long with a 45 degree angle. At full elevation, the reservoir has a surface area of approximately 4.6 acres.

Project Name Buffalo River
LIHI Certificate No. 21
LIHI Certificate Term November 28, 2016 - November 28, 2021
Owner Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative Inc.
State Idaho
Location Located at river mile 1 on the Buffalo River approximately 200 meters upstream of the Buffalo River's confluence with the Henry's Fork River, and approximately 39 miles north of Ashton, in Fremont Country, Idaho.
Installed Capacity 0.25 MW
Average Annual Generation 1,647 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-1413 issued 2004, expires 2044

Certification History

April 11, 2017: On March 8, 2017, LIHI Executive Director, Shannon Ames, announced a Preliminary Certification that the Buffalo River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 1413) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria. The Buffalo River certification includes the following condition:

  • Condition satisfied 2017. Condition 1. The Owner shall consult the USGS and HFF on how best to adjust flow records on an ongoing basis in order to assure their accuracy. Within 90 days of receipt of the LIHI certification, the Owner shall provide proof of the consultation and a description of the steps that have been taken to correct the problem.

This application was processed under the 2014 edition of the LIHI Handbook because the application materials were received prior to 2016. As provided for in Section 2.14 of the LIHI 2014 Edition Handbook, the Preliminary Certification Decision was posted on the Institute's website and sent to a stakeholder email distribution list on March 8, 2017. A 30-day period was provided to anyone who commented on the original application to request an appeal, and no requests for appeal were received.

The Buffalo River Hydroelectric Project is now deemed certified by LIHI for a five-year term. The effective certification date for the Buffalo River project is November 28, 2016, expiring on November 28, 2021.

November 28, 2016: On November 28, 2016, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., for the Low Impact Certification of the Buffalo River Hydroelectric Project, located on the Buffalo River at river mile (RM) 1, approximately 200 meters upstream of the Buffalo River’s confluence with the Henry’s Fork River, and approximately 39 miles north of Ashton, in Fremont County, Idaho.

The Buffalo River project was previously certified as low impact by LIHI for a five year from August 11, 2006 to August 11, 2011.  The project was referenced as Certificate No. 21.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Buffalo River project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria. The Buffalo River application is subject to review using the Criteria in the LIHI Certification Handbook of 2014.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s 2014 Handbook and then review the Project’s 2016 application materials posted below.  Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Buffalo River Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, PO Box 194, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640. The 60 day public comment period begins on November 28, 2016.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on January 27, 2016 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

The Buffalo River comment period has been extended to January 29, 2017.