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Ala. Power still hopeful that FERC will reverse decision

Published 7:22pm Monday, June 9, 2014

Alabama Power Company’s Jim Crew Saturday morning said he is optimistic and hopeful that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff members will reverse their initial position on the water level provisions of the company’s relicensing application for Martin Dam.

“I am optimistic and hopeful that FERC staff will recognize that the additional input supports a correction in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) toward approval of a conditional fall extension and higher winter pool level on Lake Martin,” Crew told some 60 Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) members who gathered for the organization’s annual meeting.

During his hour-long remarks at the Harbor House on Children’s Harbor’s campus, Crew reviewed the process and progress of the relicensing effort that began in 2007 and noted the impact that public input has had on the project.

“The public meeting held last July in Alexander City was a real eye-opener for FERC staff, and it was crucial in what happened from there in the process,” Crew said. “Don’t ever think that your input and your opinions don’t matter. In this case, that made a huge impression. They rarely go back on a recommendation in their draft EIS, but I think we stated a strong case and provided more data. I’m very optimistic.”

In submitting the relicensing application, Crew stressed, the power company considered the concerns of all involved or affected by the operation of Martin Dam.

“There are lots of different interests, including LMRA, in the relicensing and most focused on the water levels. We evaluated a lot of options and considered the downstream folks as well as those on Lake Martin. It is our mission to balance all of the interests, and we think we did that when we filed our application,” he said.

Alabama Power expects to submit final documents in the process on or before July 14, and Crew said FERC staff could release a final EIS before the end of the year.

Commission members will then consider the staff recommendations in the EIS and may issue a license for continued operation of the dam as early as next spring, Crew said.

Also at the meeting, Capt. Mark Fuller of the Alabama Marine Police told LMRA members that he thinks the new hazard buoys marking the former location of the sailing club pier near The Ridge will serve a good purpose during Russell Lands On Lake Martin’s annual fireworks show this year.

“Even when the dock was there and with lights on it, I had to run over there before the fireworks were over to head boaters off,” Fuller said. “I think they might scrape up the boat but maybe that would be the extent of the damage now.”

In addition, Fuller urged boaters to use caution over the Fourth of July weekend.