Licensee recommends FERC let 215 structures remain within Lake of the Ozarks boundary

Hydro licensee Ameren Missouri has recommended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allow 215 remaining non-conforming structures to stay within the boundary of the 93-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks to complete a plan to end encroachment on project lands by some 4,000 private structures.

Shoreline Management Plans have been developed for hydro projects in recent years as a result of various congressional mandates and court orders involving the balancing of competing uses at hydro projects. In 2011, FERC approved a plan by Ameren (NYSE: AEE) for the 1,150 miles of shoreline of the 230.75-MW Osage hydroelectric project (No. 459) in Missouri. However, FERC rejected a proposal by Ameren that it would continue to allow construction of accessory structures such as decks, walkways, gazebos, and patios within boundaries of the 81-year-old project.

In 2012, FERC allowed Ameren to redraw the project boundary line so that all existing private residences and commercial structures at the Lake of the Ozarks would be outside the project boundary. The new boundary generally follows the 662-foot elevation, except in some upstream areas where it follows higher elevations. It also carved out areas below the 662-foot line to ensure existing residential and commercial structures were outside the boundary.

Then the commission directed the utility to deal with remaining “accessory structures,” such as gazebos, piers, and boat docks that still were within project boundaries.

As a result, Ameren announced June 5 its recommendation to FERC to allow 215 remaining non-conforming structures to stay within the project boundary. For the past year, Ameren inventoried the structures, worked with property owners and agencies, and recommended a “positive closure plan” to FERC.

“We’re pleased to take this final step with the lake community and recommend that all pre-existing docks, patios, gazebos, and similar structures be allowed to remain on project lands,” Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri supervisor of shoreline management, said. “We have determined they have no impact on project purposes or Ameren Missouri’s ability to safely manage the lake.”

In announcing the submission, Ameren Missouri said it reminds lakefront property owners that under the new FERC-approved Shoreline Management Plan, new decks, patios, and gazebos are not allowed on project lands below the 662-foot elevation.

In response to the controversy among shoreline property owners, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., introduced a bill in Congress that would allow state legislatures to opt out of federal oversight of fish, shorelines, and other issues indirectly related to power generation, giving management of such issues to state agencies, counties, and other local authorities. The “Leave Our Lakes Alone Act” did not pass in 2012, but was reintroduced in 2013 (H.R.1235) and remains in a House subcommittee.

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