Factsheet: November 10, 2011
Union Electric Company
Docket No. P-459-310/Osage
Frequently Asked Questions
Will FERC be taking away my property rights?
No. Nothing in Amerenís Shoreline Management Plan, the July 26 order or this order has any impact on property rights. Whatever rights landowners have in lands within the boundaries of the Osage Project Ė whether conferred by deed, lease, easement or other conveyance Ė have not been and will not be altered by FERCís actions.
Did FERC reject Amerenís proposal to ďgrandfatherĒ existing structures? Did FERC reject Amerenís Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)?
No. In the July 26 order, FERC generally approved Amerenís proposal, which specifically provided that many existing structures would not be ďgrandfathered,Ē and made a few procedural changes. In this most recent order, FERC makes clear that it is accepting Amerenís new proposal to ďgrandfatherĒ existing structures that were built before March 28, 2008.
What did FERC order Ameren to do with respect to the SMP?
- Ameren must revise the project boundary to remove from within the project lands any lands that are not needed to operate the project effectively. By doing this, FERC expects that the majority of nonconforming or encroaching structures (those structures that did not receive formal approval to build) no longer will be under FERC jurisdiction and therefore no longer will be covered by the SMP.
- After redrawing the project boundary, if any nonconforming or encroaching structures remain that affect the project, Ameren must work with the owners of those structures to reach a solution that can satisfy both project operation requirements and the needs of the owners.
- Once these consultations are completed, Ameren must file a plan at FERC for dealing with any remaining encroachments. For example, Ameren could find lands elsewhere within, or to be added to, the project boundary that could meet the project purpose so that a structure does not have to be removed.
- Ameren must file its plan to modify the project boundary by June 1, 2012.
Why is this all happening now? Hasnít the Osage project been around for 75 years?
- The Commissionís responsibility in this proceeding is to be a steward of the publicís resources. As the licensee, Amerenís primary responsibility is to properly implement the terms of its license.
- Under both its current license and its previous license from the mid-1980s, Ameren has had a longstanding obligation to prevent the construction of unauthorized structures inside the project boundary, otherwise known as encroachments, and to take appropriate action to ensure that neither project purposes nor the expectations of the structure owners were unduly affected.
- Congressional mandates and court decisions over the past few decades have required the Commission to balance competing uses of hydropower projects, including power development, environmental protection, flood control, irrigation, and public recreation such as fishing and boating.
- Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) are a product of these various congressional mandates and court decisions. Ameren developed its SMP and filed it in 2008. Provisions of the SMP did not take effect until July 26, 2011, when FERC approved it.
- Over many years, Ameren failed to carry out this obligation. Amerenís repeated failure to properly implement the terms of its license has allowed matters to get to the point where it does not even know exactly what structures have been built within the project boundary and whether they were authorized. FERC recognizes that Amerenís failures have left local property owners in an extremely difficult position.
What is a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)?
Shoreline management is a longstanding FERC initiative intended to protect the shoreline around all hydroelectric project reservoirs. A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) manages the multiple resources and uses of a project's shorelines. Striking a balance between local economic interests and protecting environmental resources allows the public to enjoy those resources, and is vital for the long-term success of an SMP.
Who is responsible for enforcing the SMP at the Lake of the Ozarks?
The licensee for the project is responsible for enforcing the SMP. At Lake of the Ozarks, that licensee is Ameren. Ameren enforces the SMP by overseeing shoreline activities and taking actions to prevent unauthorized uses of project shorelines. Ameren must ensure that the proposed uses of the shoreline are consistent with the purposes of protecting and enhancing the environmental values of the project while safely operating and maintaining the project.
What is a nonconforming, or encroaching, structure?
A nonconforming structure, also known as an encroaching structure, is built on or over Amerenís property, in violation of Amerenís property rights and without Amerenís consent. It does not include structures a landowner built on privately owned land in accordance with property rights.
What happens next?
Ameren must modify the project boundary to remove any lands that are not needed for project purposes. Ameren also must identify any remaining encroaching structures that do affect the project purposes. Ameren must work with owners of those structures to reach a solution that satisfies both project operation requirements and the needs of the owners. Once Ameren has consulted with affected stakeholders, it must file a plan with FERC for redrawing the project boundary by June 1, 2012.
To read more about Shoreline Management Plans, go to http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/gen-info/guidelines/smpbook.pdf