Bonneville Pacific Corp. has a $1 million federal appropriation to work on a hydroelectric generating project at Island Park Reservoir.
In early 1991, Bonneville Pacific will begin work on a master plan to construct and operate the 4.8-megawatt generator. The company, which has headquarters in Salt Lake City, also plans months of consultation with federal and state agencies that have a stake in how the project is run. And sponsors will reconvene an advisory committee of supporters, government agencies and opponents to track the project.The Island Park generator, which will cost $10 million, has been attacked by environmental groups and outdoor enthusiasts. When the advisory committee gets back together, it could have the chance to lay the Island Park controversy to rest, one project supporter says.
"I hope that bygones are bygones," Andy Weisner, Denver-based consultant for the project, said Tuesday. "That's all water over the dam, so to speak."
It's been more than two years since the advisory panel met. Meanwhile, the project has been licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Developers have secured $1 million in federal funds to cover environmental safeguards at the project site.
Critics still want to kill the project. They claim the Island Park project would threaten water quality and trout habitat along the world-famous Henry's Fork of the Snake River. They also question Bonneville Pacific's safety record.
Weisner said the project is not complex. It involves cutting 40 feet into the dam and installing the generator. "It's technologically done all the time," he said.
Construction isn't likely to begin until next fall. Developers have agreed to delay work at the dam until fall, when fewer anglers and boaters are at Island Park Reservoir, Weisner said.
Weather will determine the construction schedule, but it probably will take two construction seasons to install the generator. If that's so, Bonneville Pacific may be running up against a deadline with FERC.
The federal license stipulates the project must be operating within four years, but Weisner said the deadline could be extended.
After Bonneville Pacific builds the project and operates it for 35 years, it's supposed to turn over the lease for it to the Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative in Ashton. The Fall River co-op owns the license and water right for the project, but didn't have the money to develop it, so it turned over the lease to Bonneville Pacific.
The Island Park project is expected to generate power for up to 3,000 homes or businesses.