A 40-year operating license issued to U.S.-based utility Duke Energy by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its 740-MW Catawba-Wateree hydropower project is now in effect.
Relicensing for Catawba-Wateree -- which includes 13 powerhouses and 11 reservoirs in North Carolina and South Carolina -- is the culmination of a multi-year process that involved more than 80 local, state and federal agencies, in addition to Native American groups, community organizations and private parties.
"The significance of the new license cannot be overstated," Duke Energy executive Steve Jester said. "Receiving the new license ensures the Catawba-Wateree River will continue to support and sustain communities across the Carolinas for at least the next 40 years."
Many of the waterway's stakeholders' concerns were incorporated into the new FERC license as a comprehensive relicensing agreement, including improvements to recreational access, water quality, drought management protocol, long-range water supply planning, land conservation, expansion of aquatic habitats, protection of endangered species and the preservation of historic and archeological resources.
"The Catawba-Wateree River supports and sustains the vitality of the region," said Sen. Wes Hayes, R-S.C. "The new license is a testament to the importance of regional collaboration and working together to find solutions to meet our water and energy needs."
The Catawba-Wateree project received an original 50-year license from FERC in 1958. The utility filed an application to relicense it in August 2006, though it was delayed by a number of challenges.
Duke filed an application in 2006 to relicense Catawba-Wateree's 13 powerhouses and 11 reservoirs in South Carolina and North Carolina. Five of the project's dams are located in South Carolina. The rest are in North Carolina.
Plants in the Catawba-Wateree project include 56-MW Wateree, 28-MW Rocky Creek, 45-MW Cedar Creek, 24-MW Great Falls, 46-MW Dearborn, 37-MW Fishing Creek, 60-MW Lake Wylie, 60-MW Mountain Island, 350-MW Cowans Ford, 26-MW Lookout Shoals, 36-MW Oxford, 26-MW Rhodhiss, and 20-MW Bridgewater.
Duke Energy said it will review the new license's terms and conditions during the next 30 days and will file a Request for Rehearing should it find any items that need clarification or correction.