Thursday May 18, 2023


A coalition of five commercial fishing and conservation groups, including California Trout, have filed suit in federal court charging that Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project on the Eel River is illegally harming salmon and steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Specifically, the lawsuit charges PG&E with maintaining and operating the Potter Valley Project in a manner that harms and harasses Coastal California Chinook salmon and Northern California steelhead trout, amounting to illegal “take” of these species. In addition to CalTrout, the suit was filed by Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Eel River, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources. Legal representation for the groups is being provided by Earthjustice and Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLC.

The Potter Valley Project includes two dams, Scott Dam and Cape Horn Dam, which impede fish passage and block access to hundreds of miles of critical, high quality spawning and nursery habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and pacific lamprey. PG&E is in the early phases of planning to decommission the facilities, which the company no longer wants due to the high costs associated with operating the aging structures. The hydroelectric portion of the Project no longer produces electricity after a transformer failure in July of 2021.

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