Grandfather Falls Licensing About to Get Underway (WI)

Posted: 12/06/2012
By: Thomas O'Keefe

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has recently announced the commencement of relicensing proceedings for the Tomahawk and Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Projects in Wisconsin. Both projects are located on the Wisconsin River and occupy public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The licenses for these projects are set to expire soon and FERC intends to prepare an Environmental Assessment that addresses the future operation for both of projects.

As part of this relicensing effort, FERC has initiated the public scoping process where issues requiring study and review are identified. Specifically FERC is soliciting comments and suggestions on the preliminary list of issues they plan to evaluate including specific studies that should be undertaken.
American Whitewater weighed in last year to express our interest in participating in the relicensing (read letter). Thanks in large part to the efforts of the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program in identifying paddler interest in this project, we are pleased to report that WPS submitted a Recreation Flow Study and FERC included this study as part of the list of the initial proposed studies. As proposed, this study would "determine the range of flows needed to provide whitewater boating opportunities in the bypassed reach" at Grandfather Falls, and "the information would help to inform whether additional flow releases would be needed."
Whitewater paddlers can help to make sure whitewater recreation is adequately considered as part of a new license by voicing their support for study and evaluation of whitewater recreation as part of the environmental analysis for a new license for these projects. There are a few upcoming opportunities to do this with a comment period now open and public meetings scheduled. It would be great if a few paddlers could attend the public meetings who would be willing to stand up and speak to the value of whitewater recreation at this project. Additionally, if you are interested in serving as a local volunteer on this project, American Whitewater is seeking local assistance. Please contact us if you are interested. The meetings are scheduled as follows:
Daytime Scoping Meeting
Date and Time: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 1 p.m.
Evening Scoping Meeting
Date and Time: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 7 p.m.
Location for all meetings:
Tomahawk City Hall, 23 North 2nd Street, Tomahawk, WI 54487
For additional background there are a few documents that may be helpful to review.
The first two documents are the Pre Application Document and the Notice of Intent Developed by Wisconsin Public Service.
The next document is produced by FERC and outlines the issues they believe need to be evaluated through studies and analysis. We encourage paddlers to attend the meetings to make sure FERC staff and the applicant understand the value of this reach for whitewater recreation.
American Whitewater will be filing detailed comments and study requests for this project. Comments are due January 25, 2013. Individuals and other organizations can also provide comment and raise issues. There are three options available:
1) For those who wish to file comprehensive comments or request studies you can register on the FERC website for eFiling. Registering allows you to sign up for the docket (in this case P-1966) and you will be notified of all filings and future opportunities to comment on the project. We recommend this option for those who want to carefully track the development of this project.
2) For those who do not wish to register but who would like to file a comment of less than 6,000 characters you can use the eComment system. You will want to file your comment with docket P-1966. You must still include your name and contact information at the end of your comments.
3) For those who wish to mail a hard copy of comments you can mail your comments to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426. Be sure to reference the docket number (for this project it is P-1966) in your introductory paragraph so that your comment is filed correctly.

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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