TMWA Mulls Future of Farad Hydroelectric Plant (Updated)


The Farad Hydroelectric Plant, and a recently-constructed footbridge that's part of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway.
The Farad Hydroelectric Plant, and a recently-constructed footbridge that’s part of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway. Photo: Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway

The future of the Farad Hydroelectric property is still unknown but the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) board on Wednesday agreed to get appraisal costs and to meet with its California neighbors to learn about types of zoning available in the area.

TMWA staff is also planning to explore types of easements that might apply to all and portions of the property, said TMWA director of operations and water quality Andy Gebhardt. A report is due back to the board in about four months.

The plant was built alongside the Truckee River in Nevada County, California in 1899. It was the first electric generating plant on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. Mining interests bankrolled the project so water could be pumped out of the Virginia City silver mines as the mine shafts were sunk deeper into the ground.

The approximately 70-acre property was successfully transferred to TMWA in December 2017. TMWA has determined that it is not economically feasible to rebuild and rehabilitate the necessary components to create an operational hydro generation facility. During the October 2017 Board meeting, TMWA staff was directed to investigate the potential uses for the property and facility.

TMWA is still soliciting letters of interest concerning ideas for the property. Letters have already come in from people who want it to remain part of the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway and for recreational use. Others want to demolish parts of it for salvage material or to repair it and get it functioning again.

TMWA purchased the hydroelectric facility and some of its assets, according to an agreement in January 2001 between TMWA and Sierra Pacific Power Co., now known as NV Energy. As a result of damages from a 1997 flood, the Farad facility wasn’t operational then and Sierra Pacific was involved in litigation with insurance companies over coverage disputes.

Feds to TMWA: Examine Ways to Improve Future Water Storage

Insurance litigation delayed delivery of the Farad facility but TMWA and Sierra Pacific entered into a settlement agreement in June 2014. The agreement stated Sierra Pacific would assign TMWA 100 percent of all future insurance proceeds related to Farad and all claims for interest due for delayed payment.

Update: This story updated the TMWA staff source.

Carla O'Day
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Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.