LIHI Certificate #25 - Pelton Round Butte Project, Oregon

The Pelton Round Butte Project is owned and operated jointly by Portland General Electric Company (PGE) and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. The project consists of the Round Butte, Pelton, and Reregulating developments located on the Deschutes River in Jefferson County, Oregon. The project is the largest hydroelectric project completely with Oregon’s boundaries.

The project includes three developments located in sequence on the Deschutes River. The powerhouses for all three developments are integral with each of the three project dams, and there are no bypassed reaches. The 324.1-MW Round Butte Development is the uppermost development and is located at river mile (RM) 110.4. It includes the 4,000-acre Lake Billy Chinook, the Project’s largest storage reservoir. Lake Billy Chinook is fed from the Deschutes, Metolius, and Crooked Rivers. The dam for the 102.15-MW Pelton Development is located on the Deschutes River about 7 miles downstream from the Round Butte Dam (at RM 103.4). The 540-acre Pelton reservoir, known as Lake Simtustus extends from the tailwater of the Round Butte Development. The 18.9-MW Reregulating Development is the most downstream development; its 190-acre reservoir on the Deschutes River extends from the tailwater of the Pelton Dam 2.5 miles downstream to the Reregulating Dam at RM 100.1.

The Round Butte Development principally consists of a 1,382-foot-long, 440-foot-high compacted, rock-filled embankment dam; a reservoir (Lake Billy Chinook); a powerhouse containing three turbine generating units for a total installed capacity of 324.1 MW; a fish hatchery (Round Butte Hatchery) located adjacent to the dam; and appurtenant facilities.

The Pelton Development principally consists of a 636-foot-long, 204-foot-high concrete arch dam; a 7-mile-long, 540-acre reservoir (Lake Simtustus); a powerhouse with three turbine generating units with a total installed capacity of 102.15 MW; and other appurtenant facilities. The Reregulating Development principally consists of a 1,067-foot-long, 88-foot-high rock-filled embankment dam; a 2.5-mile-long, 190-acre reservoir; a non-operating 3-mile-long fishway extending from the tailrace upstream to the forebay of the Pelton Development; a powerhouse containing one 18.9-MW, bulb-type turbine generating unit; and other appurtenant facilities.

The Round Butte and Pelton developments are operated as dispatchable facilities. During the spring fish migration season (March 15 to June 15), generation is shifted to the evening hours to improve fish collection, The Reregulating development is operated to attenuate high and low peak flows produced by the upstream developments. The project is operated to provide flow releases below the Reregulating development that equal or exceed the required minimum flow, a target flow ranging monthly from 3,500 cfs to 4,571 cfs.

Project Name Pelton Round Butte
LIHI Certificate No. 25
LIHI Certificate Term October 30, 2014 - October 30, 2022
Owner Jointly owned by Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.
State Oregon
Location Located between river mile 100.1 and 110.4 on the Deschutes River in Jefferson County, Oregon.
Installed Capacity Total: 366.82 MW Round Butte: 247.12 MW Pelton: 100.8 MW Reregulating: 18.9 MW
Average Annual Generation 1,444,076 MWh
Facility Type Round Butte & Pelton: Peaking Reregulating: Operated to attenuate high and low peak flows produced by the upstream developments.
FERC No. P-2030 issued 2005, expires 2055

Waters within the project reach are designated as not meeting water quality standards for flow modification, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature. Further, Lake Billy Chinook and Lake Simtustus are not meeting standards for pH and chlorophyll-a. However, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has determined that the project is not responsible for these impairments. The project constantly monitors water quality conditions and adapts operations in an effort to properly manage the project reaches. Operations are reviewed by representatives of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ODEQ, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), Trout Unlimited, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon. As a note, Trout Unlimited is the official voting member of this assembly representing the Native Fish Society, WaterWatch, Freshwater Trust, and American Rivers.

Several fish passage facilities have been implemented at the project developments. Migratory fish species in the project reach include Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and steelhead. Migrating individuals are collected, trucked, and released below the Reregulating development to continue the journey to the sea. Returning adults are captured at the Pelton Adult Trap (located immediately downstream of the Reregulating development), trucked, and released into Lake Billy Chinook. Any non-migratory riverine species are released into Lake Bill Chinook. These passage facilities have been operational since 2010. A Fish Committee was developed by the signatories of the project’s Settlement Agreement. The committee is tasked with realizing fish passage goals and assessing the efficacy of passage facilities at the project. NMFS, USFWS, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, all of whom participate on the committee, have expressed their support for the ongoing passage efforts.

The Project boundary encompasses a total of approximately 14,300 acres. Most of this property is owned by the United States government and administered by the USFS, BLM, and BIA. Included in the total are approximately 2,162 acres of lands within the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Lands adjoining the project include property owned by PGE, the United States government, the State of Oregon, the Tribes, and private citizens. US government land in the project vicinity consists primarily of the Deschutes National Forest and the Crooked River National Grassland. The Crooked River National Grassland is administered by the Ochoco National Forest. Additionally, the project includes 10,797 acres of undeveloped uplands that are managed for wildlife habitat. Of this total, 7,700 acres are located within the Metolius Mule Deer Winter Range, generally south and west of Lake Billy Chinook; approximately 3,000 acres are located in the Trout Creek basin, a tributary to the Deschutes River downstream of the project; and 97 acres are located along Campbell Creek near the Reregulating Reservoir within the project boundary. Considering only shoreline along the three impoundments, 55% is publicly owned, 30% is owned by the Tribes, 5% is owned by the project, and 10% is owned by private parties.

PLUS-Standard: The project owner has contributed over $20 million to the Pelton Round Butte Fund, a funding mechanism for river enhancement, riparian support, and acquisition of land, water, and water rights for conservation. Over 60 recipients have benefitted from the fund, resulting in benefits to Chinook salmon populations, wildlife restoration, and river quality enhancement.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include steelhead trout and bull trout. There have been several incidental takes of the listed species which were authorized by USFWS and NMFS. Notification of these events were timely and USFWS and NMFS are supportive of the project owner’s efforts to minimize impact on the listed species.

Several archaeological, historic, and traditional use properties have been identified at the project. The project trains operational staff on proper stewardship of these resources and works with Warm Springs Geo Visions owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs to provide guidance on preservation of resources in the project area. Annual reports are filed detailing protection activities, any potential concerns associated with cultural resources, and planned measures undertaken to repair damage or minimize potential for future damage.

Recreational resources at the project include thirteen recreational areas. These areas provide trails, campsites, access roads, beach areas, ADA-compliant recreation facilities, and more. The project owner often partners with the Oregon Parks and Recreational Department which has noted the project owner’s cooperative and timely nature for implementing recreation improvements. Public access is provided free of charge to project amenities.


Certification History

March 11, 2016:  On October 1, 2015, LIHI announced the Preliminary Decision made by the LIHI Governing Board Technical Committee that the Pelton Round Butte (PRB) Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2030) continues to satisfy the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria.  A 30-day appeal period was open through October 31, 2015.  A request for appeal of the certification decision was filed by Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) on October 28, 2015.  LIHI staff considered the merits of the Appeal, accepted the appeal request, and with input from the two parties, formed an Appeals Panel to consider the record of decision.  On February 29, 2016 the Appeals Panel finalized their Determination, which is that the Preliminary Certification Decision was made correctly and is consistent with the LIHI Certification Criteria. The Panel affirmed the issuance of Certificate No. 25 for the Pelton Round Butte Project and recommended minor modifications of the associated, project-specific conditions. The PRB-DRA Appeal process has now been completed.

The Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric project is now deemed certified by LIHI. The effective date for the Pelton Round Butte certification is October 30, 2014 for an eight (8) year term, which will expire on October 30, 2022.

Three project-specific conditions will be part of the new certificate, reflecting the recommendations of the Appeal Panel, the LIHI Board, and LIHI staff.  The conditions are as follows:

  • Condition 1.  As part of the required annual Compliance Statement to LIHI, the facility owner shall identify any deviations from FERC operating requirements and will include copies of all agency and FERC notifications and reports of flow deviations that have occurred in the previous year, as well as incidents reportable under License Article 405 (i.e. injury/death of ESA or non-ESA fish species). This report shall be submitted by June 1 for the previous year’s events. This report shall reference and include copies of all notifications made to the FERC during the previous year, as well as either a copy, or an electronic address to a publically available copy (preferred), of the annual report of monitoring data that is required under its most recent FERC license.  Unless otherwise included in the FERC notifications themselves, the report to LIHI shall describe for each instance:
    1. The cause of the event/deviation;
    2. The date, duration and magnitude of the flow deviation. For fish incidents, the date and number / type of species killed;
    3. Confirmation that the required verbal notices have been made to the applicable agencies based on the type of event (flow deviation or fish kill). This data shall list the date of and to whom all notifications were sent;
    4. Ways to minimize future repeat occurrences to the extent possible by the Licensee;
    5. Any proposed mitigation measures and a schedule by which such measures will be implemented; and
    6. Status or confirmation that the previously developed mitigation measures (for the previous year) have been implemented according to the proposed schedule.

    The owner shall maintain a proactive approach to reducing the frequency and severity of such deviations and incidents to the extent reasonably possible.  The annual compliance report to LIHI will be used as confirmation that the facility owner is conducting the necessary actions to minimize such events and ensure compliance with LIHI’s flow, fish passage and endangered species criteria.

  • Condition 2:  The facility owner shall provide LIHI with a description of the current status and use of funds from the General Fund and the Water Rights Fund that were part of the Settlement Agreement and current FERC license for the past year, as part of the Annual Compliance Letter to LIHI. In particular, this description shall identify the lands and waters that are benefiting from the funds and be sufficient to determine if the programs funded continue to achieve the ecological and recreational equivalent of land protection of the buffer zone referred to in Question D.1. This information will be used by LIHI staff to determine if the Pelton-Round Butte certification continues to qualify for three additional years in its term. Submission of a copy of the annual report sent to FERC under Article 436, or a link to it on FERC’s eLibrary, would satisfy this reporting requirement.
  • Condition 3. The goal of this Condition is to ensure that all interested stakeholders have access to relevant monitoring data for water quality and fish passage, and that stakeholders have an opportunity to share their concerns about progress toward the SA goals with PGE on at least a regular, annual basis. Such information access shall be coordinated with the Fish Committee that was established in the SA and FERC license. Such information sharing shall include the modeling results and analysis that will come from the Nutrient and Algae Study that PGE started in February 2015, the purpose of which is to understand the complex dynamics of the waters entering and leaving the PRB facilities. The study plan, as well as findings expected in 2018, shall be part of the materials shared with stakeholders. PGE shall establish a means to facilitate sharing of ongoing environmental studies and results from the adaptive management program associated with operations of the selective withdrawal tower with stakeholders who have demonstrated an interest in such Project activities. This information sharing may include newsletters, notices of new study findings, posting of such materials / announcements on PGE’s website or other similar methods. Such announcements of new information shall be done at least semi-annually. A method for stakeholders to provide comment to PGE on this information shall also be developed.  PGE shall notify LIHI within 60 days of LIHI recertification as to the method(s) by which such information sharing will be accomplished. A summary of information so communicated shall be included in the annual compliance reports to LIHI.  If PGE misses any deadlines established in their FERC license, the SA or ODEQ’s WQC for reports related to water quality or fish passage, PGE shall notify LIHI within 30 days of that occurrence, explain the reasons for the missed deadline, and define remedial actions they plan to take to get back on schedule.

October 28, 2015:A request for appeal of the certification decision was filed by Deschutes River Alliance (DRA).  Their request for appeal is available in the files below.

October 1, 2015:The LIHI Governing Board via a decision by its Technical Committee, determined that the the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2030) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. This is a Preliminary Decision and a 30-day appeal period will be open through October 31, 2015 for any Commenter on the Application to Recertify the Pelton Round Butte facility, who commented within the 60-day public comment period.

March 6, 2015: LIHI received a letter from Portland General Electric Company, in response to the comment letter received from the Deschutes River Alliance. The letter can be read in the Files section at the bottom of the page.

January 5, 2015:LIHI received a comment letter on the application for a second term from the Deschutes River Alliance, a science-­‐based, nonprofit, tax-­‐exempt organization advocating for the health of the Deschutes River.  To read the letter, click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

November 7, 2014: LIHI received an application for a second term of Low Impact Certification of the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project, FERC #2030, located on the Deschutes River in Oregon. The current Certificate term was set to expire on October 30, 2014, however the Institute has extended the current term through March 31, 2015 in order to complete the application review.

The 2014 Pelton Round Butte application materials are available below.

March 28, 2007: The Pelton Round Butte Hydropower Project has been certified as low impact for an eight year term, effective October 30, 2006 and expiring October 30, 2014.

October 30, 2006: Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs have filed an application for certification of the Pelton Round Butte Project, which they jointly own.