Archived Story

FERC approves higher winter pool

Published 7:15pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lake Martin’s winter pool will officially be three feet higher this year.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order Wednesday approving Alabama Power Company’s request for a drought-based temporary amendment for the Martin Project.

According to the order, the authorization allows Alabama Power to maintain the Martin Reservoir elevation at 483 feet until March 1, 2012. This elevation is three feet higher than the rule curve specified elevation of 480.

“This will allow us to get the height at 483 and hold it at that until the order expires,” said Barry Lovett, Alabama Power hyrdo licensing supervisor. “And we are right at 483 now, so this will allow us to maintain that … we are certainly pleased with the approval.”

Jim Crew, manager of hyrdo services at Alabama Power, said prior to filing the request on Nov. 3 that the company was requesting the variance as a drought management tool.

“Last week, we got our up-to-date weather projections and La Nina is possibly going to be worse than last year, which means it’s going to be drier and warmer for the next few months,” Crew said. “We’re concerned about being able to fill (the reservoir) in the spring, so the temporary winter pool proposed for long term needs to happen this year, too.”

The temporary variance will allow Alabama Power Company to store additional water precipitation, which will help fill the reservoir to the normal spring and summer impoundment elevations, and allow the company to provide adequate downstream flows during the critical summer period to benefit navigation, recreation and water quality.

Under current guidelines, Lake Martin’s winter pool is typically 480 feet and the summer pool is 490 feet. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 17, the curve is at elevation 480 feet. The curve gradually rises to 490 feet between Feb. 17 and April 28, remains at 490 feet between April 28 and Aug. 30, and then gradually falls back to 480 feet between Aug. 30 and Dec. 31. Guidelines also require the reservoir to release minimum flows down the river.

Lovett said he would like to thank the federal and state agencies for their quick turnaround and approving the request on Thanksgiving eve.

“I would like to compliment the state and federal agencies that we worked with on this,” Lovett said. “Going back to the drought of ’07 that was so problematic, we developed some close relationships … a trust develops, and now even here on a holiday week when people are trying to get off work, they were able to do this. To get it approved on the eve of a pretty major holiday, that’s meaningful for them to do that.”


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