Alabama Power’s new, 30-year license to operate Martin Dam took effect January 20, 2016. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the new license on Dec. 17, 2015. After a 30-day review period, Alabama Power has accepted the license.
Today, Alabama Power is required to begin implementing the new operating plan for the Martin reservoir. It includes a new winter pool of up to 484 feet mean sea level (msl) (483 Martin Datum), which is 3 feet higher than the old level.
The new license also allows the company to extend the summer water level at the lake into the fall, if there is sufficient water available. The company also plans several recreational enhancements around the lake as part of the new license.
The Alabama Rivers Alliance and American Rivers, Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Environmental Protection Division have filed requests with FERC for a rehearing on the new license. Despite their requests, Alabama Power is required to begin implementing the new license immediately.
Alabama Power has been working with stakeholders, local leaders and multiple public agencies since 2006 on relicensing the Lake Martin hydroelectric project. In April, experts at FERC issued a final Environmental Impact Statement that recommended the higher winter level and a conditional extension of the summer level.
Under the new license, the company will be permitted to maintain the lake up to the higher summer level of 491 feet msl (490 Martin Datum) for six weeks longer in the early fall — through mid-October — when certain criteria are met each year. Under the old license, the company has lowered the lake level beginning Sept. 1.
Select the Microsoft Word, “DOCX” file to view the license: