UPPCO chooses to rebuild failed Silver Lake dam

Upper Peninsula Power Co. announced it will rebuild the failed Silver Lake Dam, part of the utility’s 11.2-MW Dead River hydroelectric project.

�It’s been four years of studies, reviews, and discussions,� UPPCO Vice President Keith Moyle said May 21. �In the meanwhile, construction costs are escalating, and we’re losing the benefit of a renewable resource in our generation mix.�

The Dead River project (No. 10855) features two powerhouses below the Silver Lake storage basin, where the dam failed in May 2003. An investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded a fuse plug foundation and emergency spillway channel were inadequate and had eroded more than expected, leading to the dam’s failure. (HNN 10/10/06)

With the decision made, Moyle said UPPCO is eager to begin rebuilding the dam. UPPCO will restart the design process for the new dam with FERC. The utility is developing a timeline for project work. However, its early estimates call for some of the work to begin later this year, and for all work to be completed in late 2008.

UPPCO abandons plan to file license amendment

In announcing the decision to rebuild Silver Lake, UPPCO also said it no longer would pursue a license amendment that would have allowed it to operate the project with lower water levels.

UPPCO previously concluded it must amend its license for operating the Dead River project to make rebuilding Silver Lake Dam more economically feasible than abandoning it. However, based on information obtained during initial consultation on the proposed amendment, UPPCO said, several new costs and environmental certainties were brought to light. Those factors made the alternative to rebuild according to current license conditions the most cost-effective option, it added.

UPPCO is a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group. It owns nine hydropower plants, and provides electricity to 52,000 customers in ten counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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