US-based energy company Duke Energy has announced that 82% of the eligible stakeholders in the Catawba-Wateree relicensing effort have signed the comprehensive relicensing agreement.

After more than three years of collaborative work, Duke Energy received the final signatures from stakeholders on 11 August, with 70 out of the 85 eligible organisations and individuals endorsing the agreement. The agreement will now be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) along with the application for a new operating license, which would allow Duke Energy to continue operating 13 hydroelectric projects along the Catawba-Wateree river basin in North and South Carolina for the next 40 to 50 years.

Since February 2003, over 160 representatives from more than 80 organisations have helped craft and evaluate the terms of Duke Energy’s application for a new licence.

‘This is overwhelmingly positive support,’ said Jeff Lineberger, hydro licensing manager for Duke Energy. ‘This may be the single most positive community planning event that has occurred in the river basin and the results are going to have a very positive impact on the river and communities along the river for decades to come.’

According to Duke Energy, benefits of the agreement include:

  • Additional recreational opportunities – new and enhanced public access areas will create more opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking. Pre-scheduled water releases for recreational flows will create additional canoeing and kayaking opportunities.
  • More land available for recreational use – more than 1011ha of properties owned by Crescent Resources (part of Duke Energy) will be dedicated for public recreation and Crescent will offer state and local governments more than 1375ha at reduced prices. Duke Energy will also make U$9.3M to US$12.3M available to state agencies to purchase additional land for recreational uses (depending on the length of the new licence granted by FERC).
  • More information available on the lakes and rivers – reservoir levels (historical and near-term), water release times, generation schedules and maps to public access areas will be enhanced as a result of this agreement. Signs in English, Spanish and international symbols will provide additional safety information.
  • Lake level ranges – these have been established to protect municipal, industrial and power generation water intakes, as well as recreation and property owner interests.
  • Increased aquatic species habitat – higher flow releases will substantially increase aquatic habitat and will reintroduce consistent water flows to some parts of the river for the first time in nearly 100 years.
  • Water quality – Under the agreement, Duke Energy will install new equipment to enhance the quality of water released from hydroelectric plants. Water released from these plants will contain dissolved oxygen levels which are intended to improve water quality which are intended to improve water quality and fish habitat.
  • Water supply management – A new protocol will establish a basin-wide approach to reduce water use during drought situations. The conservation efforts apply to hydroelectric generation, water flows for recreation and public and industrial water systems withdrawals. The goal is to manage the available water supply until rain returns reservoir water storage and groundwater to normal levels. Duke Energy and the Public Water System owners are also establishing a water management group to jointly fund long-term initiatives that will improve water quantity and quality management across the basin.

For further details on the agreement, and for a listing of the stakeholders, please visit Duke Energy’s website by clicking on the weblink below.

External weblinks

Duke Energy