Archived Story

Lake stakeholders oppose FERC’s refusal of proposal

Published 12:22pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission has set a date and location for its public hearing after it rejected an Alabama Power Company relicensing proposal that would have increased Lake Martin’s winter elevation and extended the duration of the lake’s summer pool.

FERC will hold its required public meeting July 17 at the Betty Carol Graham Center to field public response to its decision to deny the proposal.

The meeting’s start time will be announced at a later date.

Alabama Power Company is the operator of Martin Dam, which controls the elevation of Lake Martin.

Alabama Power Company spokesperson Alyson Tucker said the company is disappointed with the decision and will offer an official comment at the meeting.

“We do not have anything we can share as of yet, but our comments will be public record at the July 17 meeting,” Tucker said. “Our people are still working through our study, and we do not have anything to offer at this team.”

Representatives of FERC, Alabama Power, Lake Martin Resource Association and other Lake Martin stakeholders are expected to be in attendance.

While FERC raised concerns about potential downstream flooding, local stakeholders used an economic impact analysis – showing a potential financial boon for the Lake Martin area – in their support of Alabama Power’s proposal.

The City of Alexander City, Elmore County Commission, LMRA, Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance, Russell Lands, Inc., Middle Tallapoosa River Basin Clean Water Partnership participated in an economic impact analysis of Lake Martin released by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. in 2009.

Among the findings in the analysis, the stakeholders argue increasing the lake levels would increase annual retail sales in the area to $149.3 million, up from an estimated $121.5 million that residents and guests to the lake accounted for at the time of the study.

The study also argues the effects of the proposed lake level increase would include a 5 percent increase in sale price and 20 percent increase in number of annual sales, a 25 percent increase in sales at projected future retail development, a 10 percent increase in hotel revenues at projected future hotels, and 1.5 times higher retail and entertainment sales from tourists.

In its decision, FERC mentioned a potential increase in downstream flooding as reason for denying the increase in pool elevation.

Alabama Power’s new license proposal called for a change in the current rule curve where the winter pool of Lake Martin, which is 480 feet, would have been increased by 3 feet to 483 feet.

Alabama Power’s proposal also called for a conditional fall extension of the date the lake is lowered from the summer pool level of 490 feet down to the winter pool from Oct. 1 to Oct 15.