Archived Story

Stakeholders to have their say at FERC hearing

Published 1:49pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

With the Federal Energy Regulation Commission set to hold its mandatory public meeting regarding Alabama Power’s relicensing proposal, the community will have a chance to be heard.

FERC will hold a public meeting Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center.

The meeting will give the public a chance to voice their opinion on Alabama Power’s proposal and FERC’s ruling.

FERC rejected Alabama Power’s new license proposal that 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.

Steve Forehand, vice president and general counselor and secretary of Russell Lands – a stakeholder in Lake Martin – said stakeholders should come out to the meeting because Alabama Power’s proposal has many positive impacts for the area.

“We believe that the higher winter pool elevation and the fall extension would extend the recreation season for Lake Martin, which has a corresponding positive economic effect on the entire area,” Forehand said. “I think the stakeholders should come out because FERC really has not heard from the community as a whole. I think the support of the community will go a long way toward convincing FERC that this is a widely-supported proposal.”

John Thompson, president of Lake Martin Resource Association, said Alabama Power’s proposal has many economic and recreational benefits for all the lake’s stakeholders.

“It makes a big difference in not only the aesthetic look of the lake, but you are also going to be buying more gas, you’re going to be helping the local economy by using the lake and the restaurants, and the marinas,” Thompson said. “Another key point is that some of the public ramps, when they drop the lake a full 10 feet, they become inaccessible,” Thompson said. “When you add three feet back to it, I think of the 13 public ramps – six of them become usable.

“So fishermen and people who don’t own property and just want to launch their boat, they are going to have more convenient access.”

Dave Heinzen, President of Lake Martin Home Owners and Boat Owners Association, said he believes there will be a lot of support for Alabama Power’s proposal at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I expect that were are going to have a big crowd over there. I think it’s going to be good for us and in the end we’ll prevail,” Heinzen said. “I think FERC will come to the conclusion that even though they (the public) don’t speak, they are stakeholders in this process. The economic benefits of an increased lake level during the winter will benefit the area. Everybody wins in that situation.”

Whatever FERC’s ruling may be, the new license between it and Alabama Power will last for 40 years.

For that reason, Thompson said it’s important that the community let it’s voice be heard.

“We have gotten very good response,” Thompson said. “This is a once in a 40-year chance to let FERC know what this means to us.”

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