Draft EA Issued for Claytor Project: FERC Staff Disagree with Resource Agency Staff on Recommended Flows

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the relicensing of the Claytor hydroelectric project located on the New River in  Pulaski County in Virginia. Appalachian Power Company is seeking to get a new license for the 75 MW project and had filed its application in June 2009.

In its DEA, contrary to Virginia Department of Fish and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF)  recommendations, FERC staff do not recommend that higher flows be required downstream of the project.

VDGIF had recommended that Appalachian Power be required to release 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) or inflow (whichever is less) during December and January and 1,500 cfs or inflow (whichever is less) in February and March. On the other hand, Appalachian had proposed hourly discharge of 750 cfs or inflow (whichever is less) during April through November, and 1000 cfs or inflow (whichever is less) during December through March, which is the peaking season.

The EA states that there is "no basis to expect that a more natural flow regime or one that would narrow the gap between the base flow and the generation flow would enhance the fish community of the New River downstream from Claytor dam."

VDGIF had recommended higher flows to better mimic the long-term hydrograph,  provide better flows for aquatic species, and for recreational boaters.

The DEA is available for public comment for 30 days.