FERC draft EIS supports relicensing 724.74-MW Catawba-Wateree

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a draft environmental impact statement recommending relicensing of the 724.74-MW Catawba-Wateree hydroelectric project in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The draft EIS evaluates the potential environmental effects of relicensing the project (No. 2232), which features 13 powerhouses and 11 reservoirs. Duke Power Co. LLC, doing business as Duke Energy Carolinas LLC. Duke Energy holds the previous license to operate the project and filed a relicense application in August 2006.

The previous license expired Aug. 31, 2008; Duke now operates the project under temporary annual license. FERC lists the project’s authorized installed capacity for purposes of calculating annual charges to be 724.74 MW; the Duke’s application lists project capacity as 831 MW.

The draft EIS describes Duke’s proposed measures to: protect and enhance environmental resources, including increased minimum flows; improve aquatic habitat and protect threatened and endangered species; and maintain and enhance recreational opportunities. It also describes a proposal to build a new 26.4-MW powerhouse to replace 18-MW Bridgewater powerhouse as part of a seismic remediation project at Linville Dam. (HNN 4/16/07)

FERC staff concludes measures proposed by Duke Energy, along with staff recommended measures, would adequately protect and enhance existing water use, water quality, fish and wildlife, land use, aesthetics, recreational resources, and cultural resources. As proposed, the staff alternative would result in an annual net benefit of $13.2 million, based on average annual generation of 1,283 GWh.

Comments on the draft environmental document, issued March 6, are due May 8 to Kimberly Rose, Secretary, FERC, 888 First St. N.E., Washington, DC 20426. FERC encourages electronic filing. Filing instructions are available under the eLibrary link on FERC’s Internet site, www.ferc.gov. Comments will be considered in staff’s preparation of a final EIS, expected to be issued in November.

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