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FERC draft EIS recommends relicensing 82.3-MW Toledo Bend hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a draft environmental impact statement recommending the relicensing of the 81-MW Toledo Bend hydroelectric project on the Sabine River including a 1.3-MW expansion unit for total installed capacity of 82.3 MW.

The Sabine River Authority of Texas and the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana, are joint licensees for the Toledo Bend project (No. 2305), located on the Texas-Louisiana border. The authorities were among hydro operators winning a FERC ruling in March that stopped FERC collecting federal land use fees for hydro project land the federal government no longer owns.

The authorities, which filed to relicense the water and power project in 2011, also reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Forest Service on recreation, shoreline erosion, and invasive species and with other stakeholders on aquatic issues.

Toledo Bend features a dam, reservoir, spillway, powerhouse with two vertical Kaplan turbine-generators, a tailrace channel, station transformer, and transmission line. The authorities propose to construct a 1.3-MW horizontal Francis minimum flow turbine-generator in a second powerhouse downstream of the spillway.

The applicants also propose to implement provisions of the settlement agreements dealing with recreation areas, erosion monitoring and management, control of invasive Chinese tallow, and continuous spillway releases.

FERC staff issued the draft EIS for Toledo Bend on June 14, recommending the commission relicense the project as proposed by the authorities with a number of FERC staff modifications.

If the project were relicensed with no changes, project power would cost about $21.11 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. Under the Sabine River authorities’ proposal, power would cost $3.49/MWh less than alternative power. Under the FERC staff-endorsed alternative, power would cost $3.19/MWh less than alternative power.

The draft EIS may be obtained from the FERC Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13282438. FERC is taking comments on the document until Aug. 5.