The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has announced that it has certified the Summersville hydroelectric project on the Gauley river in Nicholas and Fayette Counties, West Virginia, US, as low impact.

The 80MW facility is owned and operated by Gauley River Partners, and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as project number 10813. It is located between Summersville dam and the upper boundary of the Gauley river national recreation area, on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and is essentially a run-of-river project, generating power only with the flows that USACE releases.

Project structures include a power house with two hydroelectric turbine-generators, a substation, and a transmission line. The transmission line extends across the downstream side of the dam, and the power house connects to the ACOE’s discharge tunnel via a penstock. The reservoir is Summersville lake, which the ACOE manages for flood control, low-flow augmentation, and recreation.

The Summersville hydroelectric project meets LIHI’s eight low impact criteria:

• Addressing river flows.

• Water quality.

• Fish passage and protection.

• Watershed health.

• Endangered species protection.

• Cultural resources.

• Recreation use and access.

• Whether or not the dam itself has been recommended for removal.

Summersville successfully completed LIHI’s application process, which includes a public comment period, review by an independent technical consultant, consultations with state and federal natural resource agencies, and evaluation by the LIHI Governing Board, including leaders in the river conservation and renewable energy fields. The Board’s vote to certify the Summersville project was six in favor, none opposed, and one abstention.

External weblinks

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute