FERC rejects request to raise Logan Martin winter pool
by Elsie Hodnett
LOGAN MARTIN LAKE – Alabama Power Company officials said the company plans to file an amendment to the winter pool lake level with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as soon as the Corps’ regulatory manual is completed.

“We received a new license from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) in June, but haven’t accepted it yet,” said Jim Crew, Manager of Hydro Services for Alabama Power Company, said at the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association summer meeting Thursday.

Crew said in the FERC application, APC requested the winter pool level on Logan Martin Lake be raised two feet and the winter pool level on Weiss Lake be raised three feet, but FERC did not approve those changes in the new license.

“We are as disappointed as you about the rule curve changes,” he said.

Crew said in 2000, APC held hundreds of meetings with stakeholders during a 5-year process to see what changes needed to be made when applying for a new FERC license.

“One main thing the group on Logan Martin Lake said was that the winter pool level needed to be higher,” he said.

Crew said Weiss Lake stakeholders also noted an increased winter pool level as the most important change they wanted to see.

“We worked on a Coosa River Flood Study for years to see if it was feasible, and the Corps was with us the entire time,” he said. “The study said it was absolutely feasible that we could raise the winter pool levels—no question it could be done.”

Crew said in 2005, Corps officials said they could not concur with the APC flood study due to legal issues.

“That’s a problem, because they have the regulatory authority,” he said. “We filed for the changes anyway and FERC basically approved it a couple of years later on condition of the Corps approval, so we started again to get the Corps’ approval.”

Crew said during that time, the Corps was discussing revision of their regulatory manual.

“A draft finally came out 5-6 years later, which did not include those changes,” he said. “Alabama Power formally submitted a comment on the draft saying the Corps should have incorporated the winter pool lake level changes on Logan Martin Lake and Weiss Lake into the draft already. It is extremely frustrating for us, because there are not a lot of options.”

Crew said the Corps has to finish their manual, then will look at analyzing the changes APC is requesting.

“We’ve got everything that justifies it,” he said. “The Corps just feels they have to go through their manual process first. If the Corps approves the study today—we could reapply tomorrow. We did everything we could do—and the people here and on Weiss Lake did everything they could do.”

Alan Peeples, Supervisor of Reservoir Management for Alabama Power Company, said the Corps hopes to finish the new regulatory manual in October.

“The best course of action is to let them finish the manual first,” he said.

Crew said APC is filing for rehearing on the new FERC license, but can’t file regarding the winter pool level issues.

“There are a few other things we are filing on,” he said. “Some other entities, such as Georgia, may also file.”

Crew said the new license did include a lot of good environmental changes.

“There are a lot of wetlands protection measures, and other smaller ones that will help the lake overall,” he said. “The issue about the winter pool lake levels isn’t over—we are ready to file when the Corps finishes their manual.”

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.
© 2013