[Above photo courtesy of Duke Energy]
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Duke Energy to operate its Keowee-Toxaway Hydroelectric Project for another 30 years. The project includes the Jocasssee Pumped Storage Hydro Station, Keowee Hydro Station and associated lakes.
This is the first time Duke Energy has received an operating license since the project was initially licensed for 50 years in 1966. That license was set to expire in August, but the new one takes effect on Sept. 1.
“The project provides clean, renewable hydroelectric power generation, supports regional public drinking water needs and provides high-quality recreational opportunities for the region. This license ensures the availability of these resources for future generations,” said Steve Jester, vice president of water strategy, hydro licensing and lake services for Duke Energy.
The project creates about 868 megawatts of energy for residents every year. Two powerhouses pump water into two reservoirs at Lake Jocasssee and Lake Keowee. When electricity demand peaks, the stored water is discharged through a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces energy. That energy is redirected to the power grid. Also, the project provides cooling water to the Oconee Nuclear Station, according to communications manager Heather Danenhower. The Keowee Hydro Station also serves as one of many back-up power supplies for the Oconee Nuclear Station.
In 2009, about 16 stakeholders, including the Greenville-based environmental organization Upstate Forever, started to discuss the relicensing of the project. In 2013, stakeholders and Duke Energy agreed to specific actions related to water resource protection, public recreational enhancements, land conservation and shoreline management in the Keowee-Toxaway Relicensing Agreement. Duke Energy applied for relicensing in Aug. 2014.
“Receiving the license allows us to implement operational, environmental and recreational resource enhancements that will result in many benefits to the community and the environment for decades to come,” Jester said.
The agreement provides more than $1 million to protect the Nine Times Preserve in Pickens County as well as $600,000 to the Oconee County Conservation Bank and $350,000 for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for an observation tower at Sassafras Mountain.
Duke Energy plans to add diver access, a new dock, a new boat, trailer parking area, access for non-motorized boating and bank fishing signs at Devils Fork State Park. The company is also adding about 25 acres, new restrooms and 12 campsites at the Double Springs Campground.
In addition, Duke Energy plans to add new parking areas at three recreation sites, new trails, bank fishing signs, new campsites, fishing stations and 10 cabins at Mile Creek County Park, which is located on Lake Keowee. It will also add a kayak launch, fishing pier and portage at 15-Acre Lake, a project recreation site at Keowee-Toxaway State Park.
Duke Energy will also start a Habitat Enhancement Program that will protect about 2,900 acres adjoining Lakes Keowee and Jocasssee by allowing qualified government agencies and nonprofits to start projects that “ensure habitat creation, enhancement and protection activities for fish and wildlife,” according to Duke Energy.
The program will be funded from a fee charged to developers for lake-use permits for projects on Lake Keowee and Lake Jocasssee. Project funding will be administered by the Foothills Community Foundation. Accepted projects will be announced sometime in the fall.
For more information: http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/