Proposals could impact production at 80-MW Denison hydropower project

A Lake Texoma community organization is requesting changes to water use laws that could have an impact on hydroelectric power generation at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Denison Dam.

The 80 MW hydropower plant, located on the Red River along the Oklahoma/Texas line, impounds a lake that has a normal elevation of 616.04 feet, according to Corps data.

The area has experienced drought in recent years, however, causing Lake Texoma’s current level to fall to 609.2 feet.

Members of the Lake Texoma Association are asking for changes to a 1987 law governing generation to prevent levels from dipping further.

Current laws dictate that the Corps will only use Denison Dam’s generation capabilities for “rapid response” and implement a public information program when Lake Texoma falls below 612 feet, with water conservation implemented and hydroelectric generation being reserved for “critical needs” when it falls below 607 feet.

Changes proposed by the Lake Texoma Association would mean hydropower could only be generated for rapid response and brownouts at levels below 615 feet, and only in emergency blackout situations at 609 feet. The group also wants all water removal from the lake stopped at levels of 600 feet.

The Corps said Denison’s output in 2013 was its lowest since 1945 — just one year after the project was completed. recently reported that the Corps’ Tulsa District, which manages the lake, had extended a bid to replace two turbine runners at the hydropower project.

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