Cutler reservoir lowered to enable technical studies

October 15, 2019

BENSON, Cache County, Utah — Operators of the Cutler hydroelectric project will lower the reservoir beginning Oct. 25, to conduct a series of technical studies associated with the process to renew the federal license for the project. The reservoir will remain down until mid-November. When the work is completed, the reservoir will be refilled to normal elevation.

“The studies required as part of the federal license renewal are essential to keep the Cutler project available to supply energy to customers, and to maintain the many recreational and wildlife benefits that are available from this project,” said Eve Davies, principal scientist for PacifiCorp, which owns and operates the plant. PacifiCorp, through its operating division, Rocky Mountain Power, provides electric service to 1 million customers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

Once the drawdown begins, it is likely that access to all Cutler boat ramps will be restricted, and access to the Upper Bear River site will be eliminated during portions of the drawdown, Davies said.

“We recognize the inconvenience this may cause to those who use Cutler reservoir this time of year,” Davies said. “We appreciate the patience of those who use our facilities while we complete these required studies. We urge any who may visit Cutler during this time to please be observant to new hazards that may become exposed. Areas that are usually accessible may become inaccessible, potentially over a period of hours, particularly during the initial period of the drawdown.”

The company will use the opportunity of this drawdown to perform some needed maintenance of the hydroelectric plant during the time the technical studies are being conducted.

“Certain maintenance work can only be performed when the water is taken out of the generation works,” Davies said. “Doing this maintenance now will be a more efficient use of this drawdown and will ultimately have less impact on recreational activities and wildlife.”

Updates to the project schedule can be found at the Cutler website or by calling 801-220-2245.

PacifiCorp began the six-year process to renew its federal license for the Cutler hydroelectric project in 2018. The current license expires in 2024. Stakeholders, adjacent land owners and the general public have attended public meetings conducted by either the company or by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. State agencies, stakeholders and the general public have been involved throughout the process.

The Cutler project first began producing power in 1927. Cutler generates about 106,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually. That is enough power to meet the typical needs of about 12,000 typical homes in Utah.

The project is designed for both irrigation and hydropower. The 109 foot-high Cutler Dam forms a 5,500 acre reservoir on the Bear River in Cache Valley, Utah, which is also a recreation area. The area surrounding the reservoir is mostly agricultural land. The Cutler project license was last renewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1994 for a term of 30 years. The current license and related documents can be viewed at pacificorp.com/cutler.