FERC environmental report supports 88.3-MW Holtwood Expansion

An environmental report prepared by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff recommends the commission approve the 88.3-MW Holtwood Expansion, an addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood hydroelectric project on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River.

The draft environmental impact statement, issued July 18, evaluates a proposal by PPL Holtwood LLC to amend its license for Holtwood (No. 1881). (HNN 1/18/08) 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.

FERC is to consider comments on the document filed by Aug. 18. It expects to issue a final EIS in October.

The draft documents 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 draft EIS will become part of the record from which FERC makes its decision on the application.

Although earlier reports described a 125-MW Holtwood Expansion project, the draft EIS said the expansion would increase installed capacity by 88.3 MW. In the application to amend its license, PPL also asked that FERC extend its current license term for the project for 16 years, until Aug. 31, 2030; the existing license to operate Holtwood expires Sept. 1, 2014.

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. Additionally, the project would be reconfigured to improve upstream fish passage, particularly for American shad, through modifications of existing facilities and excavations in the tailrace channel. If PPL begins building the expansion in 2009 as planned, the $300 million project would begin generating electricity in 2012.

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