The four plants within the 865MW Big Creek scheme are located in the Upper San Joaquin river catchment in Fresno and Madera counties in the state.

SCE submitted its first relicensing application, for one part of the scheme – Mammoth Pool – in late 2005, and then for the others (the ‘Big Creek’ plants) in February last year.

FERC said the draft EIA produced from the staff review proposes that the plants of the Big Creek scheme be relicensed in accordance with a comprehensive settlement agreement developed under the Commission’s alternative licensing procedures. Certain modifications and additional measures have been recommended by staff, however, FERC added.

The utility is proposing no capacity changes at the projects but will introduce changes to plant operations and watershed management. FERC staff propose further measures, including gravel management, clarification of the Bald Eagle Management Plan, signage and water elevation measures.

Comments on the draft EIA have to be received by FERC before the end of October.