Stakeholders work toward relicensing 876.6-MW Keowee-Toxaway hydro project

Keowee-Toxaway hydro project

Stakeholders have signed an agreement in principle for the relicensing of Duke Energy's 867.6-MW Keowee-Toxaway hydroelectric project and already have launched the negotiating process intended to create a relicensing agreement by November.

Duke filed documents with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2011 to officially begin the multi-year relicensing process for the two-development Keowee-Toxaway project (No. 2503) in South Carolina and North Carolina.

The project includes the 157.5-MW Keowee plant and the 710-MW Jocassee pumped-storage plant on the Keowee, Little, Whitewater, Toxaway, Thompson, and Horsepasture rivers, all tributaries of the Savannah River. Duke Energy unit Duke Power recently performed runner replacement and related work at pump-turbine Units 1 and 2 of Jocassee.

Keowee-Toxaway originally was licensed in 1966 for 50 years. The current license expires in 2016. More than 40 agencies and organizations have participated in relicensing teams since September 2009. The agreement in principle outlines proposed hydroelectric operations, lake level management, recreational amenities, regional drought response, and other considerations for the next 30 to 50 years.

After two months' study of the negotiated agreement in principle, all stakeholders signed the document in July and provided their rating of how well the pact meets their organizations' interests. Stakeholder team facilitator Ken Kearns said no stakeholder dropped out of the process and the list of items that team members would like to see improved was relatively short at 24 items.

"As is typical in hydro relicensing negotiations, which is about finding a fair balance among scarce resources, few get everything they want," Kearns said in a Duke Energy newsletter. "In fact, in these types of negotiations, it's often joked (with some truth) that a successful result leaves everyone equally unhappy. That seems to be what happened."

Nevertheless, Kearns said it was clear that many stakeholders received a lot of what they wanted.

"After taking two whole weeks off, the stakeholder team members rolled up their sleeves and got back to work converting the AIP into a binding contract," Relicensing Project Manager Jen Huff said. "... The Stakeholder Team Charter calls for the relicensing agreement to be signed no later than the end of November. Unlike the AIP, the relicensing agreement has no consensus levels. Stakeholder team members either sign it or they don't."

The relicensing agreement is to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with Duke's formal relicense application in August 2014. Project relicensing information may be obtained from the Duke Energy Internet site under http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/keowee-toxaway-relicensing.asp.

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