PPL delays construction start of 88.3-MW Holtwood Expansion

PPL Corp. is re-evaluating its schedule for developing the 88.3-MW Holtwood Expansion, an addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood hydroelectric project on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River.

While the $300 million project has not been shelved, PPL is delaying the issuance of a limited notice to proceed with construction, PPL spokeswoman Lissette Santana said.

�In light of the current economic climate, PPL is evaluating all capital expenses at this time, including this project,� Santana said.

�Although the start of construction has been delayed, PPL will continue to work with state and federal agencies to receive the necessary approvals to relicense the Holtwood facility and eventually expand when economic conditions are more favorable,� Santana added.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering an application filed by PPL subsidiary PPL Holtwood LLC to amend its license to increase installed capacity and to extend its current license term for 16 years, through Aug. 31, 2030. The existing license for operating the Holtwood project (No. 1881) expires Sept. 1, 2014. (HNN 8/4/08)

PPL’s proposal includes construction of a new powerhouse, installation of turbines and generators, and enlargement of the forebay. Project facilities would be reconfigured to enhance upstream fish passage through modifications to an existing fishway and excavation of the tailrace channel.

Construction of the expansion would involve building a new two-unit powerhouse on the site of a former coal-fired power plant adjacent to the 10-unit Holtwood powerhouse.

FERC staff recommends license amendment

FERC staff released a final environmental impact statement in November that endorses PPL’s proposed license amendment with additional measures.

As was the case in the draft EIS, FERC staff said environmental measures proposed by the licensee, and modified by staff, would enhance upstream fish passage and adequately protect environmental resources. The expansion would provide about 361 gigawatt-hours annually.

PPL’s proposal with FERC staff modifications calls for the project to be reconfigured as proposed by PPL to improve upstream fish passage, particularly for American shad. However, staff modifications would require the extent of in-water blasting activities to defined before construction activities involving blasting were initiated.

Additionally, the staff recommends: development and implementation of a recreational use monitoring plan; and additional provisions to the land and shoreline management plan. Another staff measure would require the filing of a sediment and erosion control plan, final excavation plan, bald eagle monitoring plan, and final historic properties management plan for FERC approval before construction could begin.

The document includes the views of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, Indian tribes, the public, the license applicant, and FERC staff. It contains staff evaluations of the applicant’s proposal. The EIS will become part of the record from which FERC makes its decision on the license amendment application.

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