FERC accepts license surrender for 530-kW Columbia Lake Dam hydropower project in New Jersey

New Jersey

On Aug. 10, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Order Accepting License Surrender from Great Bear Hydropower Inc., the licensee for the 530-kW Columbia Lake Dam hydroelectric project, located on the Paulins Kill in Knowlton Township, Warren County, New Jersey.

The Paulins Kill is a tributary of the Delaware River in northwestern New Jersey and is about 42-miles long. According to the New Jersey Nature Conservancy, it is New Jersey's third-largest contributor to the Delaware River, behind the Musconetcong and Maurice rivers.

New Jersey owns the project in Paulins Kill as part of the Columbia Wildlife Management Area, and Great Bear Hydropower Inc. has been operating the hydropower project under a long-term lease with the state.

According to FERC, “the [Project No. 8396-021] licensee proposes to remove the generating equipment, transformers from within the powerhouse and to disconnect the electric connection to the local utility. All associated wiring from the underground electric conduits would be removed with the conduits remaining in place. The licensee’s proposed actions would not require any ground disturbing activities and the equipment needed to control the level of the lake, including the hydraulic controls, cylinder gates and trash racks would be left in place.” 

The project includes Columbia Lake Dam, a 20-ft-high by 330-ft-long concrete dam, originally built in 1909. 

New Jersey purchased the scheme in 1955, after which it discontinued the project’s original hydropower generation. Following FERC licensing in 1986, the project added a powerhouse containing two generating units.

In addition to other information about the license surrender, the order also says, “It will be up to the state of New Jersey, the dam owner, to decide whether to remove the Columbia Dam, once the hydroelectric facilities have been decommissioned.”

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