FERC issues final EIS for the Susquehanna River hydro projects

Commission staff prepared a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the relicensing of York Haven Power Company’s (York Haven Power) existing 19.62 megawatt (MW) York Haven Project No. 1888-030, and Exelon Generation Company’s existing 800.25-MW Muddy Run Project No. 2355-018 and existing 574.54-MW Conowingo Project No. 405-106.

York Haven Power used the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) and filed its relicensing application on August 30, 2012. Exelon also used the ILP and filed its relicensing application for the Muddy Run Project on August 29, 2012, and for the Conowingo Project on August 31, 2012.

All three projects are located on the Susquehanna River. The York Haven Project is located at river mile (RM) 55 in the city of York, in York, Dauphin, and Lancaster Counties, Pennsylvania. The Muddy Run and Conowingo Projects are located at RM 22 and RM 10, respectively, in Lancaster and York Counties, Pennsylvania, and Cecil and Harford Counties, Maryland. Conowingo Pond, the reservoir for the Conowingo Project, acts as the lower reservoir for the Muddy Run Project. The Muddy Run Project also includes an upper reservoir for pumped storage operation and recreation reservoir for public access. None of the projects occupy federal lands.

For the York Haven Project, a Settlement Agreement was reached among York Haven Power, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission that addresses issues pertaining to fish passage, flow management, water quality and debris management, and endangered species and species of special concern.

The primary issues associated with relicensing the three projects are sedimentation effects on aquatic resources downstream of Conowingo dam, including Chesapeake Bay; instream flows downstream of Conowingo dam; the effects of project operations on water quality; effective fish passage for American shad, American eel, and other diadromous species; protection of sensitive plant and wildlife species, including the bald eagle, osprey, bog turtle, and northern map turtle; enhancements to recreation opportunities and facilities; and protection of cultural resources.

In the draft EIS, issued July 30, 2014, Commission staff evaluated York Haven Power’s proposal and Settlement Agreement, Exelon’s proposals, recommendations made by state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public. After receiving comments and oral testimony on the draft EIS, staff revised the document, as necessary, in this final EIS.

In the final EIS, Commission staff recommends the staff alternative, which consists of measures included in York Haven’s proposal and Settlement Agreement and Exelon’s proposals, as well as some of the mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by staff.