FERC environmental assessment backs relicensing two West Virginia projects

An environmental assessment by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff finds no significant environmental effects that would prevent relicensing two Appalachian Power Co. hydroelectric projects in West Virginia totaling 43.56 MW.

One of the projects is 28.8-MW London-Marmet (No. 1175), which includes two developments, 14.4-MW London and 14.4-MW Marmet, both constructed at Corps of Engineers dams on the Kanawha River. The other project, also built at a Corps dam on the Kanawha, is 14.76-MW Winfield (No. 1290).

The environmental assessment, issued Dec. 4, finds relicensing the projects with staff-proposed modifications "would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment."

Both Marmet and Winfield rely on releases from London for their operation. Upon relicensing, Appalachian proposes to operate the three developments in run-of-release mode. It also proposes to implement a bird protection plan, maintain tailrace fishing access, install restrooms and trash containers to accommodate recreational use, and implement a historic properties management plan.

FERC staff also recommended developing an operation and compliance monitoring plan, as well as vegetation and recreation plans.

FERC staff found that the annual costs of operating London-Marmet and Winfield with no changes are $5.06 per MWh and $7.78/MWh less than the cost of alternative power. As proposed by Appalachian, with staff recommendations, the projects are expected to cost $4.49/MWh and $7.21/MWh less than the cost of alternative power.

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