Seneca Nation settles hydro issues with FirstEnergy

FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) has apparently cleared away an issue with the Seneca Nation of Indians that it wanted to get resolved before it sold several hydroelectric plants to LS Power Development LLC, including a plant where the nation has had a competing interest.

On Nov. 26, the nation filed with a notice with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it wants to withdraw its previous comments in the docket where FirstEnergy sought approval of the hydro sale deal. On Sept. 4, parties in the sale deal submitted a joint application for authorization. On Sept. 25, the nation filed a motion to intervene and the comments it now wants to withdraw. By order issued Nov. 1, the commission approved the transaction.

“The Nation and FirstEnergy Generation, LLC (an affiliate of FirstEnergy Service Company) have entered into a comprehensive Settlement Agreement resolving a variety of issues, including in this docket and in Project Nos. 2280, 13889, and 14100,” said the nation’s Nov. 26 filing. “In light of the Settlement Agreement, and pursuant to Rule 216 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 C.F.R. § 385.216), the Nation hereby gives notice of its withdrawal of its September 25, 2013 Motion to Intervene and Comments in the above-captioned docket.”

The nation gave no details of that settlement. FirstEnergy indicated in its announcement of this deal that it needed to clear away the nation’s issues before the sale could be completed.

The facilities to be sold to LS Power are the:

  • 451 MW Seneca Pumped Storage Station (the project 2280 mentioned in the nation’s filing);
  • the 52 MW Lake Lynn Hydroelectric Station;
  • the Allegheny Lock and Dam Unit Nos. 5 and 6 with a combined capacity of 14 MW;
  • the 2.4 MW Millville Project;
  • the Dam Nos. 4 and 5 Hydro Stations with a combined capacity of 2.9 MW;
  • the Luray and Newport Projects with a combined capacity of approximately 2.4 MW; and
  • the Shenandoah and Warren Projects with a combined capacity of 1.7 MW.

The Seneca Nation has been claiming control of the Seneca pumped storage facility in Pennsylvania on the basis of complicated Native American property rights interests and has had plans to seek its own new FERC license for this facility.

Also on Nov. 26, the nation filed a second notice with FERC that it is giving up a preliminary permit related to the possibility of adding new conventional hydro generation at the Seneca pumped storage site. In February 2011, the nation filed an application for a preliminary permit to maintain priority while studying the feasibility of installing conventional hydropower generation at the Kinzua Dam. The commission issued the preliminary permit in August 2011. The nation had been pursuing studies under the preliminary permit along with looking to relicense the FirstEnergy Seneca pumped storage project.

“As stated in its preliminary permit application, the Nation sought both the instant preliminary permit and a license for the associated pumped storage project in order to better facilitate its participation as a sovereign nation and as a business entity in the coordinated co-management of facilities that affect the river and lands of the Seneca Nation, while ensuring that the benefits of the power projects are more appropriately aligned with the burdens,” said the Nov. 26 filing. “The Nation and FirstEnergy recently entered into a comprehensive Settlement Agreement resolving a variety of issues between them, including those with respect to the preliminary permit.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.