Rare fish may affect Duke Energy's dam licenses


Shortnose Sturgeon
  • Shortnose Sturgeon

A federally protected endangered fish is creating a licensing headache for Charlotte-based Duke Energy. What's the trouble? The fish swims upstream to spawn and there are a buncha damn dams in its way.

From The State:

A rare fish continues to stand between Duke Energy and the federal license it needs to operate 11 dams along the Catawba-Wateree river system.

Federal regulators are trying to determine if shortnose sturgeon need higher water levels in the Wateree River from near Camden to Congaree National Park.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Duke have begun to study the question in detail at the insistence of federal fisheries managers. When their research is completed, the work must then be examined by another federal agency – the National Marine Fisheries Service. If the service doesn’t agree, it can require changes in the way Duke operates its dams.

That could include more water below the dams or ways to help sturgeon and other fish get upstream past dams. But that also could be expensive for the power company and lower water levels on lakes where people live, Duke has said.

Duke Energy, the largest power company in the Carolinas, will eventually get new license to operate dams from near Charlotte to Lake Wateree. The question is whether the federal government will impose tougher requirements than Duke thinks are necessary. The power company’s existing license is expiring. The company has been trying for most of this decade to get a federal license, but has been unable to resolve issues surrounding the shortnose sturgeon.

Read the rest of this article, by Sammy Fretwell, here.

Further reading: EPA to cut power-plant emissions -- The Charlotte Observer

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