On July 8, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) terminated consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 54 USC 306108, regarding the Shell Energy North America (US) (Shell) Hydro Battery Pearl Hill Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project (Pearl Hill), FERC Project No. 14795-002, in Douglas County, Washington. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is required to issue comments to the head of the federal agency within 45 days of a termination. In order to assist us in preparing these comments, the ACHP is requesting stakeholder and public comment on the effects of the project on historic properties.

BACKGROUND: FERC is in the final stages of review of a license application to construct the Pearl Hill project, which consists of: (1) a 300-foot-diameter, 20-foot tall, upper reservoir tank; (2) a 3,400-foot-long above-ground penstock transitioning to a 2,700-foot-long buried penstock to convey flow from the upper reservoir to a 77-foot square power platform housing five vertical pumps and one 5-MW turbine generator; (3) a 2,500-foot-long, 24.9-kilovolt transmission line (part buried, part affixed to penstock) to an existing line; (4) five vertical turbine pump intakes to withdraw water from the Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Rufus Woods Lake Reservoir, at Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River.

As part of that review process, FERC must comply with Section 106 of the NHPA and its implementing regulations, “Protection of Historic Properties” (36 CFR 800), which require that federal agencies take into account the effects of undertakings that they carry out, permit, or assist on historic properties and afford the ACHP a reasonable opportunity to comment. Agencies do so by following a process set forth in the Section 106 regulations that includes the identification of historic properties that might be affected,  assessment of effects to historic properties, and consultation to attempt to resolve (avoid, minimize, or mitigate) any adverse effects. The Section 106 process requires that federal agencies consult State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), applicants, Indian tribes, and others who have an interest in the project and its effects on historic properties to identify appropriate opportunities to resolve these effects. The Section 106 process usually is concluded with agreement among the consulting parties on measures to resolve adverse effects. In the event agreement is not reached, the federal agency must seek formal comments from the ACHP, and the head of the agency is required to take them into account in reaching a final decision on the project.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) have expressed concerns about the effects of the project on the setting, context, and contributing elements of a historic district that FERC and the Washington SHPO agree should be considered eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places as a place of significance to Indian tribes.

On July 8, 2020, FERC determined that agreement on how to resolve adverse effects to these historic properties could not be reached among consulting parties and requested that the ACHP provide comments in order to conclude the Section 106 review process. The chairman of the ACHP, after coordination with ACHP members, will issue comments to the chairman of FERC within 45 days of the request. Once the chairman of FERC considers the ACHP comments and responds to them in accordance with the Section 106 regulations and Section 110(l) of the NHPA, 54 USC 306114, FERC will have concluded the legal requirements of the Section 106 process and may make a final decision on the project. The chairman of FERC must provide a summary of the decision that contains a rationale for the decision and evidence of consideration of the ACHP’s comments, provide a copy of the summary to the ACHP and all consulting parties, and notify the public, prior to announcing its decision.

Under its Section 106 responsibilities, the ACHP will be reviewing information and input from FERC, the Section 106 consulting parties, other stakeholders, and the public in preparation of its final comments on this undertaking. The ACHP is inviting the public to address the ACHP on the undertaking’s effects on historic properties and any measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects on those properties. Interested parties should submit written comments via electronic mail. Following review of the information and comments received, the ACHP will provide its formal comments to FERC no later than August 24, 2020. Please note that the scope of the Section 106 review is limited to historic properties and therefore the ACHP urges commenters to focus comments on FERC’s consideration of impacts to historic properties from the proposed Pearl Hill project.

The ACHP is inviting written comments from any party. In your written comments please provide your name and the organization that you officially represent (if any). Send all comments via electronic mail to: pearlhill106@achp.gov. Please note that in order for written comments to be considered by the ACHP, they must be received by 8 p.m. Eastern Time August 7, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACHP’s physical office is currently closed. Accordingly, the ACHP is very unlikely to be able to receive comments submitted by hard copy via US Mail and cannot guarantee that such comments will be received and considered for this matter. All electronic mail comments submitted by 8 p.m. August 7, 2020, will be part of the public record and considered by the ACHP prior to the transmittal of its formal comments to FERC. Once issued, those final comments will be posted on the ACHP website.

ABOUT THE ACHP: An independent federal agency, the ACHP promotes the economic, educational, environmental, sustainability, and cultural values of historic preservation and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also influences federal activities, programs, and policies that affect historic and cultural properties. See www.achp.gov for more information.

For media inquiries, contact Lynne Richmond at 202-517-1484.