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FERC proposes to revoke Mich. hydropower license


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FERC proposes to revoke Mich. hydropower license

Citing multiple violations, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed to revoke the federal license for the 4.8-MW Edenville hydropower project in Michigan. The commission said Boyce Hydro Power LLC failed to address the project's inadequate spillway capacity, and the failure of the Edenville Dam could lead to loss of life and the destruction of property and infrastructure.

The commission announced an order proposing to revoke Boyce Hydro's license for Edenville in the Federal Register on Feb. 26, with the order dated Feb. 15. The project first began generating power in 1923.

The Edenville project includes a 0.4-mile-long bypassed reach on the Tobacco River that extends from the dam to the point where the Tobacco River meets the Tittabawassee River and two reinforced concrete multiple arch spillways.

FERC in October 1998 approved the transfer of a license to operate the Edenville project from a previous owner to Boyce Hydro, conditioned on the company abiding by certain conditions that address dam safety, property rights, water quality, public recreation and other concerns.

The company "has a long history of non-compliance with those terms and conditions," the commission said in its recent order. The agency recalled that in June 2017, it detailed that history and "staff's multi-year effort to bring Boyce Hydro into compliance." Despite those efforts, the commission still found that Boyce Hydro failed to increase the capacity of the spillways, performed unauthorized dam repairs and earth-moving activities, failed to file an adequate public safety plan, unduly restricted public access to project facilities, failed to construct approved recreation facilities, failed to acquire and document all necessary project property rights and failed to comply with a 1999 commission order approving the company's water quality monitoring plan.

Boyce Hydro asked for more time to address the June 2017 order's concerns, which was granted. While Boyce Hydro did provide some paperwork related to the property rights complaints, FERC found in the recent order that the company continues to be in noncompliance.

"The licensee failed to meet nearly all the obligations in the compliance order, even after commission staff granted multiple extensions," the order stated. "Thus, based on the record, there is no reason to believe that the licensee intends to come into compliance."

FERC issued an order in November 2017 ordering Boyce Hydro to cease generating power at the project. The company asked FERC to reconsider that order, but with the proposal to revoke the project's license the commission rejected that request.

FERC noted that public safety will not be affected by revoking Boyce Hydro's license, which would simply end the commission's jurisdiction and transfer oversight authority of the dam to the state of Michigan. Revocation will also not mandate removal or any modification of the dam.

Boyce Hydro can request a hearing on the revocation before an administrative law judge within 30 days. If the company does not, FERC can decide the matter based on the written record. (FERC Project No. 10808)