PG&E (Rothschild) abandoning water-power project – Impacting 600,000 water customers . . .


n a letter to Mendocino County stakeholders, the embattled utility said: “We recognize the gravity of this action, but believe it is appropriate given PG&E’s current circumstances.”

The expected bankruptcy filing “underscores the decision,” but was not the primary cause, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said. “We have been looking to divest this and other (hydro) projects that are noneconomical for years,” he said.

Power from Potter Valley exceeds the cost of alternative sources of renewable power on the open market and is therefore a burden on PG&E ratepayers, Moreno said.

But the water is virtually invaluable, especially to towns and ranches along the upper Russian River from Potter Valley to Healdsburg. The 7,000-acre valley alone produces $34 million worth of wine grapes, cattle and other products a year.

Grant Davis, general manager of Sonoma Water, said the water diverted from the Eel River and stored in Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, is “critically important” to his agency’s 600,000 customers.

Asked if Sonoma County could afford to lose that water, Davis said: “I think everyone would like that answered.”