Adjustments will aid downriver fish spawning and spring lake levels
ROANOKE, Va., Jan. 17, 2008 –Appalachian Power has notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it will maintain reduced outflow from the Leesville dam into the Staunton River because of predictions of continued low rainfall in the Smith Mountain Project watershed.
A normal minimum flow of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) is required in Appalachian’s operating license. In mid-August the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) authorized a variance of the company’s minimum flow requirements to help slow lowering water levels in the hydroelectric project’s reservoirs. That variance was extended by FERC in September from the original modified flow of 500 cfs to 400 cfs on weekdays and, later, every day.
A condition of the September order provided cancellation of the approved changes to the required minimum flow when the Smith Mountain Lake returned to an adjusted elevation of 794.00 feet, providing that spring inflows are able to sustain increased releases necessary for downriver fish spawning.
“Because the lake is approaching an adjusted level of 794.00 feet and drought conditions persist, the company consulted with area stakeholders and proposed to extend the lower variance releases past that mark in order to keep the lake as full as possible before fish spawning-related water releases later this year,” according to Teresa Rogers, Appalachian’s environmental and regulatory affairs supervisor.
“All parties agreed with continuation of the variance flows,” she said.
The stakeholders include DEQ, Virginia Department of Game an Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Dominion Virginia Power, Smith Mountain Lake Association and other downstream representation.
The company will continue to monitor the lake as it approaches full pond and consider “surcharging”—or exceeding the adjusted 795.00 foot level—in anticipation of the spring releases required by agencies for fish spawning. Stakeholders will again be consulted to determine if downstream flows are sufficient to support the continued variance at that time.
Flow modifications and releases are contingent upon restrictions or requirements caused by extreme weather or other conditions. Changes may be made without notice. Current flow and elevation readings for all hydroelectric generating facilities operated by Appalachian Power and its parent company American Electric Power may be viewed at this Web site: http://www.aep.com/environmental/recreation/hydro/Default.asp
Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.
Corporate Communications Manager