Coosa Hydroelectric Project No. 2146
Mitchell Dam Hydroelectric Project No. 82
Jordan Dam Hydroelectric Project No. 618
Commission staff prepared a draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that supplements the final Environmental Assessment (EA), issued December 31, 2009, for the proposed relicensing of Alabama Power Company’s Coosa River Hydroelectric Project No. 2146.
On July 28, 2005, Alabama Power Company filed an application for a single new license to continue to operate and maintain three currently separately licensed projects that include seven developments: (1) the Coosa River Project (FERC Project No. 2146), which includes the Weiss, H. Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, and Bouldin Developments; (2) the Mitchell Dam Project (FERC Project No. 82); and (3) the Jordan Dam Project (FERC Project No. 618). The projects are located on the Coosa River in Cherokee, Etowah, Calhoun, St. Clair, Talladega, Shelby, Coosa, Chilton, and Elmore Counties, Alabama, and Floyd County, Georgia. The projects occupy about 508.31 acres of federal land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and 5.75 acres of federal land administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On June 20, 2013, the Commission issued a new 30-year license that combined all three projects as one, 960.9-megawatt project, the Coosa River Hydroelectric Project. The Commission issued an order on rehearing on April 21, 2016, and a subsequent September 12, 2016 order denying rehearing of the April 21, 2016 order. American Rivers and Alabama Rivers Alliance jointly petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (court) for review of the Commission’s license order and both rehearing orders. On July 6, 2018, the court issued an opinion vacating and remanding the new license for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. The draft SEIS addresses the following issues identified by the court as needing further analysis and expands upon the analysis contained within the final EA for these issues: (1) dissolved oxygen; (2) fish entrainment and turbine mortality; (3) federally threatened and endangered species; and (4) cumulative effects.
The primary issues associated with relicensing the project are: (1) regulation of reservoir elevations; (2) downstream flooding; (3) project operation during periods of drought; (4) flow regimes in project-affected reaches of the mainstem Coosa River; (5) water quality; (6) fishery resources and fish passage; (7) threatened and endangered species; (8) recreation resources; and (9) shoreline management.
In the draft SEIS, Commission staff recommends relicensing the project under the staff alternative, which consists of measures included in the applicant’s proposal, all of the mandatory conditions included in Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s water quality certification, some recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by staff.
The deadline to file comment on the draft SEIS is August 16, 2021.