FERC issues new Lake Martin license
New license raises lake level during winter, allows for extension of summer level when there is sufficient water
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today issued Alabama Power a new 30-year license to operate Martin Dam, approving the company’s proposal to raise the winter level at the lake by 3 feet.
The new license also allows the company to extend the summer water level at the lake into the fall, if there is sufficient water available. The company also plans several recreational enhancements around the lake as part of the new license.
“We want to thank the thousands of Lake Martin stakeholders who participated in the relicensing process, and who supported the proposal to raise the lake level at Lake Martin,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power chairman, president and CEO.
“Raising the winter lake level and having the opportunity to extend the summer pool, when there is sufficient rainfall, will greatly enhance the recreational opportunities and aesthetics of Lake Martin for both residents and visitors. It will also have a positive economic impact for businesses around the lake,” said Matt Bowden, Alabama Power vice president of Environmental Affairs.
Alabama Power has been working with stakeholders, local leaders and multiple public agencies since 2006 on relicensing the Lake Martin hydroelectric project. In April, experts at FERC issued a final Environmental Impact Statement that recommended including in the new license the higher winter level and conditional extension of the summer level.
According to the provisions of the new license, Alabama Power would maintain the water level on Lake Martin during the winter months up to an elevation of 484 feet, mean sea level (msl) (483 Martin Datum) instead of the current 481 feet, msl (480 Martin Datum). The company also would be permitted to maintain the lake up to the higher summer level of 491 feet msl (490 Martin Datum) for six weeks longer in the early fall – through mid-October – when certain criteria are met each year. Under the old license, the company has lowered the lake level beginning Sept. 1.
“We are glad to have the opportunity to provide higher lake levels in the fall when conditions allow it,” said Jim Crew, Hydro Services manager for Alabama Power. He noted, however, that in many years, conditions will not be favorable and sufficient water will not be available for an extended summer level.
A historical analysis by the company indicates that, on average, conditions for a higher fall pool elevation exist about once every four years.
Because the license provides for a 30-day review period, Alabama Power’s acceptance of the license is not effective until Jan. 20, 2016. At that time, Alabama Power will be required to begin implementing the new operating plan.
The new license also includes provisions for the company to make significant recreational and environmental enhancements around Lake Martin. The enhancements are expected to include the protection of additional undeveloped lands around the lake and improvements at shoreline recreational areas.
For more information about Alabama Power’s reservoirs, visit www.apcshorelines.com.