New Nantahala Hydropower License Issued!
Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new 30 year license for the Nantahala Hydroelectric Project in Western North Carolina. The new license confirms many elements of a 2003 collaborative settlement agreement developed by Duke Energy, American Whitewater, state and federal resource agencies, and many other stakeholders. Included in the new license are flow releases that treat over 250,000 people each year to whitewater paddling on the Nantahala River, and form the backbone of the local economy.
Specifically, the new license mandates include:
- A robust schedule of recreational releases on the Class II Lower Nantahala
- 8 new recreational releases on the Class III/IV Upper Nantahala and Class V Cascades of the Nantahala.
- New continuous base flows for Dicks Creek and Whiteoak Creek totalling 24 cfs
- New and enhanced public access to rivers and reservoirs
- Native fish restoration initiatives
American Whitewater, Carolina Canoe Club, and local river outfitters worked closely with Duke Energy and other partners for three years to negotiate the agreement that serves as the basis for this new federal license. Since that time we actively and successfully advocated for the removal of Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River, which as a requirement of the related Tuckasegee dam relicensing had stalled the entire licensing process. We will now be conducting a detailed review of the new Nantahala license, and working with our settlement partners on a path forward to implementation.
Many license provisions, including releases on the Cascades and Upper Nantahala, may take a year or possibly more to implement. We will keep the paddling community posted as these releases are scheduled, and as potential volunteer opportunities arise.