Gresham Municipal Utilities Initiates Licensing Process for Red River Dams (WI)
Over the past few months Gresham Municipal Utilities has been gearing up to relicense their
hydroelectric projects on the Red River. The license for the Weed Dam Hydroelectric Project (FERC
P-2464) is set to expire on June 30, 2015 and the license for the Upper Red Lake Dam
Hydroelectric Project (FERC P-2484) is set to expire on December 31st, 2018. The utility has
formally asked federal regulators to coordinate the expiration dates for these two projects so
they can be treated together. Both are very small projects together producing less than 1 MW of
electricity. The utility recently filed their Pre Application Document and Notice of Intent to
relicense the Weed Dam project.
As paddlers know operation of the Weed Dam impacts flows on the Red River. In the past the project was operated in a peaking fashion--sometimes producing fun high flows when the powerhouse was running and at other times producing no flows when the powerhouse was off. Following concerns raised by agencies charged with management of fishery resources on the river who pointed out that the current license does not allow these peaking operations, federal regulators ordered the utility to operate the project in a run-of-river fashion and cease peaking flows as stipulated in the current license.
Over the next 5 years as relicensing proceeds we anticipate a process where project operations will be examined in detail. This will provide a unique opportunity for the paddling opportunity to explore the various alternatives regarding the future of these projects. American Whitewater can provide technical assistance on the project but we are seeking a local volunteer or group of volunteers willing to invest some time in this process over the next few years. We are filing comments now to establish standing but would benefit from the involvement of local paddlers who can follow the process and attend stakeholder meetings.