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Dam Owner Pulls Plug On Holtwood Expansion (PA)

Posted: 12/09/2008
By: Kevin Colburn

Yesterday the owner of Holtwood Dam on the Susquehanna River announced that they would not move forward with their plans to install additional generation capacity to their dam.  In a statement on their website, William H. Spence, executive vice president and chief operating officer of PPL Corporation stated: "As we evaluated this project in light of current economic conditions and projections of future energy prices, we reached the conclusion that it is no longer economically justifiable.”


PPL has spent the past several years planning for the expansion of their hydropower project.  The expansion project was expected to double the energy capacity of Holtwood Dam and to significantly improve the passage of American Shad and other fish species. As originally planned the project would have destroyed and/or dewatered most of the few remaining whitewater rapids on the Susquehanna River.  American Whitewater and several local paddling clubs, businesses, and individuals spent the past two years negotiating an agreement with PPL that would have minimized and mitigated those impacts.  Yesterday that agreement, and all pending permit requests for the Holtwood expansion project were voided.  


Now that their FERC license amendment and extension is not going to happen, PPL will have to initiate the 5.5 year dam relicensing process in 2009. There is little doubt that much of what was learned in the failed amendment process will help stakeholders reach a mutually acceptable relicensing outcome.  


Paddlers can now expect Holtwood to remain unchanged for at least the next 6 years.  American Whitewater and the great group of paddlers we worked with throughout the amendment process will participate in the forthcoming relicensing.     


Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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Associated Projects

Holtwood Dam - Susqehanna (PA)

Dam Owner is proposing to reduce flows and alter channel containing whitewater features as part of a FERC license amendment.

Associated Rivers

Susquehanna River PA
3.) Holtwood III+


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