AW NEWS: Dam On North Carolina’s Green River To Be Sold
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Words & Photo: Kevin Colburn
Earlier today Duke Energy announced the pending sale of five hydropower dams in western North Carolina and South Carolina to Northbrook Energy. The pending sale includes the Tuxedo Hydropower Project, which regulates flows in the popular Green River below Lake Summit. Water releases from the project are vital for paddling on the Class III/IV Upper Green, the Class V Narrows section, and the Class II Lower Green. Duke Energy plans to finalize the sale in early 2019.
Over the past several months Duke Energy has been reaching out to stakeholders to gather information on the effects the Tuxedo Project has on regional interests, including recreation-related visitors and businesses. American Whitewater shared the incredible value that the current flow releases and online flow information have to paddlers of all ability levels, and requested that these benefits continue under new ownership. Indeed, the river attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the area each year from around the region and the world, supports summer camps and outfitters, and has attracted several outdoor recreation related businesses to the region.
The Tuxedo Hydroelectric Project is highly unusual in that flow releases and reservoir levels are not currently dictated by state or federal permits. Duke Energy has voluntarily evolved its operation over nearly a century to strike an effective balance of uses of the limited water supply to meet the needs of electric customers, lake neighbors and reservoir and river recreationists. To ensure flow releases in the Green River will continue to serve the public interest following the sale of the project, a robust recreational flow schedule very similar to the 2018 schedule, an online 3-day flow forecast (i.e., same day plus 2 days ahead), and an annual stakeholder meeting will be required of the new owner through a lease agreement with the Lake Summit Property Owners Association. The lease will take effect and the details will be made public upon the sale of the project, and will run for 5 years with two 5-year renewals available to the property owners. This arrangement will thus serve as a bridge to future non-regulatory or regulatory management.
American Whitewater would like to thank Duke Energy for listening to concerns expressed by American Whitewater and other paddling leaders, and for respecting the interests of the paddling community. We look forward to working with Northbrook Energy, the Lake Summit Property Owners Association, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and other stakeholders including the Green River paddling and fishing communities to ensure this non-regulatory approach is implemented in a way that works for the Green River and all its enthusiasts.