FERC draft EIS backs relicensing three Susquehanna River hydro projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a draft environmental impact statement recommending the relicensing of three hydroelectric projects totaling 1,394.41 MW on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The draft EIS, issued July 30, recommends relicensing York Haven Power Co.’s 19.62-MW York Haven project (No. 1888) at river mile 55 in York, Dauphin and Lancaster counties of Pennsylvania, and Exelon Generation Co.’s 800.25-MW Muddy Run Pumped-Storage project (No. 2355) at river mile 22 in Lancaster and York counties of Pennsylvania and 574.54-MW Conowingo project (No. 405) at river mile 10 in Cecil and Harford counties of Maryland.

FERC staff recommends the commission relicense the projects as proposed by the licensees with a number of FERC staff modifications. For York Haven, the licensee reached a settlement agreement with area resource agencies that addressed fish passage, flow management and endangered species.

Primary relicensing issues are sedimentation effects on aquatic resources downstream of Conowingo including Chesapeake Bay; instream flows downstream of Conowingo; water quality; fish passage for shad, eel and other diadromous species; protection of sensitive plant and wildlife species; recreation enhancements; and protection of cultural resources.

York Haven proposes to construct a nature-like fishway at its project, simulating a natural riffle and gradually sloping channel. Exelon proposes no major changes to Muddy Run but proposes construction of eel trapping facilities at Conowingo to help eel migration.

Under the FERC staff-endorsed licensing alternatives, in the first year of operation York Haven project power would cost $2.52 per MWh more than the cost of alternative power, while Muddy Run would cost $31.28/MWh less and Conowingo would cost $17.06/MWh less than the cost of alternative power.

The draft EIS may be obtained from the FERC Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13603922. Comments may be submitted to FERC until Sept. 29.

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