Realities of Hydropower Relicensing
We have entered into Phase two of the relicensing process for FERC Project
2197 and we will be participating in the Issue Advisory Groups (IAG) to
represent you and your interests. The
other participants in the IAGs will be representatives from NC and SC state
agencies, Federal agencies and other Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) from
NC and SC such as us. During this
phase each IAG will identify specific issues at each of the lakes in the project
that will require studies by experts. These
experts will identify and evaluate the overall impact of any proposed changes in
the operations of the project as well as the impact of continuing to operate
with no changes. Based on the input
provided during phase one of the relicensing process, the following areas of
interest were identified as issues that would most likely require studies to
justify the terms and conditions written into the new license for the project.
Fish and Aquatics
Fish Passage and Entrainment
Terrestrial, Wildlife and Botanical
Rare, Threatened and Endangered (RTE) species
Recreation ( local )
Recreation ( regional )
Aesthetics and Visual Quality
Shoreline Management Issues
Project Operations and Basinwide modeling
Once the scope of the required studies is identified, Alcoa
Power Generating Inc. (APGI) will be required to provide the funding for each of
the studies. This can be a
significant amount of money since most of the consulting firms providing this
type of expertise charge as much as $150.00 per hour per consultant.
At the conclusion of the studies the experts will make recommendations as
to what changes, if any, should be made.
While APGI, the governmental agencies and the NGOs may not
be in total agreement with each others goals or even with the recommendations of
the experts, the end goal of the IAG process is for all of the participants to
negotiate an agreement to which they can all say “I can live with that”. If
any group is in total disagreement with the conclusions or recommendations of
the experts, their only option is to provide their own expert to evaluate the
validity of the study and confirm or refute the conclusions reached by the
expert who is being paid by APGI. At
this time, all of the consulting firms retained to conduct the necessary studies
are firms that have been under contract with APGI for many years.
This is not to imply that any of the experts would be biased toward the
organization paying them but to point out that in the real world such things
have happened before.
As stated earlier, any group or agency not agreeing with
the conclusions of a study will have to provide at their expense, their own
expert and/or legal counsel to support their position.
APGI has just concluded phase two of relicensing for their Tapoco
hydroelectric project in western NC and eastern TN and is very familiar with the
process as well as what will need to be done to obtain results that are most
favorable to them. APGI recently
hired a second consultant to refute the findings of the “High Rock Lake
Dredging Study” (we have been told that study cost $150,000) when they were
not happy with the conclusions and recommendations of the original consultants.
Most of the governmental agencies have participated in numerous
relicensing proceedings and have the expertise to support their opinions on
their staff. The NGOs are generally
made up of concerned citizens and may or may not have credible experts at their
disposal to evaluate the validity of the studies and the conclusions reached by
the original consultants. Some of
the NGOs are national organizations such as “
” or are being backed by special interest groups (mainly from SC) and have
funding available to them when needed. The
most “challenged” groups in this respect will be the local groups such as us
who are fighting for changes beneficial to local recreational users as well as
the businesses and residents of Davidson and Rowan counties.
Many of the groups participating will have some similar
goals. We are building alliances
wherever possible to strengthen our position and we are working as part of the
High Rock Lake Coalition to coordinate the efforts of as many groups as
possible. As long as another group
does not have a goal that is in direct conflict with our own, we will try to
form alliances with them to increase our strength.
Be assured, the groups from SC as well as APGI will be working diligently
to ensure that as much water as possible is passed through the dams and dumped
Our board of directors has committed themselves to nothing
less than success. We have been in
contact with several participants from groups similar to ours who participated
in the relicensing of Alcoa’s Tapoco project, some of whom have been through
this process more than once. We
asked for their advice on several issues and their recommendations will be used
to help maximize our chances of obtaining our goals.
This will mean hundreds of hours of personal involvement over the next 36
months for those actually attending the meetings with many expenses coming out
of their own pockets. If we are not
successful it could mean
and the residents of Davidson and Rowan counties are at the mercy of APGI or
even the interests from SC for the next 50 years.
We do not feel it is acceptable for private industry or those downstream
with their own interests in mind to control what happens here just because they
have the funds available to ensure success.
We have made a firm commitment that we will not allow any reasonable
amount of money to prohibit us from succeeding.
This is the one area we will need the most help from you.
When we started this endeavor we were determined to keep
our expenses to a minimum and avoid asking for membership dues from those
wishing to join our organization. At
that time we felt it was more important to be sure we represented as many people
as possible. We are now a group of
approximately 7000 concerned citizens and growing daily.
We will continue to increase our numbers until the whole process is
complete and we will NOT require anyone to pay membership dues to join us.
We have held several fund raisers to date and relied on occasional
donations to cover our expenses.
Those who have actually participated in this process before
have encouraged us to become financially prepared for the coming months. Their
recommendation is for us to raise somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 to be
adequately prepared. We have decided
to create a contingency fund of at least $25,000.
While this would only amount to a little more than $3 from each of our
members, we realistically expect only a small percentage will donate.
When the time comes, if we do not have enough funding available we will
work with other groups to pool our resources toward common goals.
Additionally we may be forced into having emergency fund raising drives,
but we will NOT fail due to lack of funding.
The stakes are very high for everyone involved.
The changes requested by APGI
in the Tapoco project are proof that beneficial changes can be made but they
will not come freely or easily. They
went from a 2 month recreational season and a 24 foot winter drawdown to a 7
month recreational season and a 10 foot maximum winter drawdown.
In making your decision to give, please consider what our
success would mean to you personally for the next 50 years.
What would water levels no more than 4 feet below full pond on a year
round basis mean to your recreational experiences at
? How would it affect the value of
your property? What affect would it
have on area businesses and the local economy?
How many tourism related jobs might be created within the region?
Maybe you could set aside just one or two dollars for each recreational
outing you will enjoy on
during the next 5 years. That’s a
tiny amount to ensure there is adequate water there when you arrive.
We are not asking anyone to give beyond their means but please consider
the above questions and then give whatever you can realistically afford.
request to remain anonymous, we will list each and every person and business who
donates to our efforts on the Sponsors page of our web site.
If we should have any funds left over when the process is
complete, we will let our membership decide what should be done with the funds.
The suggestions made so far include such things as:
the funds equally between several local charities in Davidson and Rowan
for some type of enhancements at the public boat landings that are not
included in the new license issued to APGI.
new/improved/additional navigation and warning markers around the lake.
some type of garbage receptacles at areas frequented by bank fishermen.
The possibilities of things beneficial to the lake and the
surrounding areas are almost unlimited and many of them will be identified in
the studies that will be done in the coming months.
Thank you for your
consideration and generosity!
SaveHighRockLake.org Board of Directors