The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has recommended a proposal to combine and relicense three Alabama Power Co. hydroelectric projects totaling 960.9 MW.
Alabama Power proposed combining its 690.9-MW Coosa River (No. 2146), 170-MW Mitchell (No. 82), and 100-MW Jordan (No. 618) projects and relicensing them under the Coosa River name and number for a total of 960.9-MW. (Hydro Review November 2007) In 2009, Alabama Power received $6 million in economic stimulus funds to upgrade units at three Coosa River plants. (HydroWorld 11/4/09)
FERC staff issued an environmental assessment recommending the combined project be relicensed based on Alabama Power’s proposal plus FERC staff modifications. Alabama Power proposed no increase in capacity but proposed operational changes to raise winter water levels at three reservoirs, minimum flows to enhance aquatic habitat and species, a water quality monitoring plan, and funding for aquatic enhancements.
FERC staff recommended additional measures including a drought management plan, pool elevation operational changes, an erosion repair and monitoring plan, adaptive management of instream flows, minimum flow studies, fish passage consultations, and a revised recreation plan. The staff modifications are based on recommendations of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies.
The environmental assessment said the relicensing proposal with staff modifications would have an annual net benefit of $212.9 million, compared to $212.6 million for the licensee proposal alone and $225.8 million for continued operation of the project with no changes.
FERC staff said relicensing the project would provide 3 million megawatt-hours annually from renewable resources that would offset the use of fossil-fueled generation. It said recommended environmental measures would adequately protect and enhance resources affected by the project.
As combined, the Coosa River project would include the following developments: 87.75-MW Weiss, 72.9-MW Neely Henry, 128.25-MW Logan Martin, 177-MW Lay, 225-MW Bouldin, 170-MW Mitchell, and 100-MW Jordan.
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