FERC final EIS backs relicensing 82.3-MW Toledo Bend hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has issued a final environmental impact statement recommending the relicensing of the 81-MW Toledo Bend hydroelectric project on the Sabine River including a 1.3-MW expansion unit for total installed capacity of 82.3 MW.

The final EIS generally follows terms of a draft EIS issued last year. The Sabine River Authority of Texas and the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana, are joint licensees for the Toledo Bend project (No. 2305), located on the Texas-Louisiana border.

In October, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal by 28 property owners who complained of property damage caused by flood gate releases from Toledo Bend Dam in 2009. The licensees also were among hydro operators winning a FERC ruling in March that stopped FERC collecting federal land use fees for hydro project land the federal government no longer owns.

The authorities, which filed to relicense the water and power project in 2011, propose to implement provisions of settlement agreements with the U.S. Forest Service on recreation, shoreline erosion, and invasive species and with other stakeholders on aquatic issues. They also propose to construct a 1.3-MW horizontal Francis minimum flow turbine-generator in a second powerhouse downstream of the spillway.

FERC staff issued the final EIS for Toledo Bend on Dec. 20, recommending the commission relicense the project as proposed by the authorities with a number of FERC staff modifications.

If the project were relicensed with no changes, project power would cost about $21.11 per MWh less than the cost of alternative power. Under the Sabine River authorities’ proposal, power would cost $3.50/MWh less than alternative power. Under the FERC staff-endorsed alternative, power would cost $3.21/MWh less than alternative power.

The final EIS may be obtained from the FERC Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13419473.

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