Duke Energy has announced the signing of a comprehensive relicensing agreement for its 814-MW Catawba-Wateree hydroelectric project, comprising 13 hydro plants in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin of North and South Carolina.
The utility said 82 percent of eligible stakeholders signed the pact Aug. 11, enabling Duke to file the agreement and its relicense application (No. 2232) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later in August.
Only 15 participants did not sign the agreement, among them American Rivers, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, and Fish and Wildlife Service.
�This may be the single most significant community planning event that has occurred in this river basin, and the results are going to have a very positive impact on the river and the communities along the river for decades to come,� Duke’s hydro licensing manager, Jeff Lineberger, said.
Higher flows, increased D.O. to improve habitat
Under the settlement, Duke agreed to higher flow releases that are to increase substantially the aquatic habitat and reintroduce consistent water flows to some parts of the river for the first time in nearly 100 years. Lake level ranges also were established to protect municipal, industrial, and power generation water intakes, as well as recreation and property interests. Duke also agreed to install new powerhouse equipment to increase dissolved oxygen levels in plant discharges to improve water quality and fish habitat.
Other benefits include additional recreational opportunities and land available for recreation, more information available on lake and river operations and public access, and a basin-wide approach to water use and conservation during drought conditions.
Plants in the Catawba-Wateree project include 56-MW Wateree, 28-MW Rocky Creek, 45-MW Cedar Creek, 24-MW Great Falls, 46-MW Dearborn, 37-MW Fishing Creek, 60-MW Lake Wylie, 60-MW Mountain Island, 350-MW Cowans Ford, 26-MW Lookout Shoals, 36-MW Oxford, 26-MW Rhodhiss, and 20-MW Bridgewater.
The upcoming relicensing of the Catawba-Wateree project was one subject of a 1992 letter from Duke Power Chairman William Lee to then-FERC Chairman Martin Allday. Based on Duke’s previous licensing experience, Lee had urged FERC to streamline the hydropower licensing process. At that time, Lee predicted the Catawba-Wateree relicense application would require 19,500 pounds of documents.