GRDA Asks FERC for temporary relief from rule curve requirement

Vinita – The Grand River Dam Authority has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for temporary relief from Grand Lake rule curve draw-down requirements for August 2011. GRDA submitted the request to FERC in early April.

FERC’s approval of the request would mean GRDA would not lower the elevation of Grand Lake to meet a rule curve requirement of 741 feet by September 1.

In 1992, FERC, which is the federal agency with oversight of the nation’s hydroelectric facilities, issued GRDA a 30-year license to operate the Pensacola Dam and Grand Lake (Project No. 1494). In 1996, that license was amended to include a Grand Lake rule curve. In the years since, GRDA has been required to lower the lake’s elevation in mid-August to facilitate a millet seeding project on exposed mudflat areas of the lake.

In November 2010, GRDA initiated discussions with the Grand Lake Technical Committee on a possible license amendment to modify the Grand Lake rule curve. At the annual Grand Lake Technical Committee meeting, GRDA Director of Ecosystems Dr. Darrell Townsend met with representatives from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Townsend polled committee members as to whether they would support an amendment that would grant GRDA operational discretion for Grand Lake within the power pool and elminate the rule curve requirement.

The technical committee did agree to support delaying the drawdown of Grand Lake until after the 2011 Labor Day weekend. That is the basis for GRDA’s request for temporary relief which is now pending with FERC. However, the committee indicated it would not consider a license amendment to permanently change the rule curve until further modeling and studies can be completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

While GRDA has heard from many members of the public on this issue, it made the request to FERC following meetings with representatives from the City of Miami and Ottawa County.

“Understandably, we have received a lot of input on this issue and felt it was important to meet with those who might have concerns over any long-term rule curve amendments,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley. “We felt it was important to have this information in place prior to making this request of FERC.”

Once it publishes notice of the proposed rule curve amendment, FERC will have a 30 day comment period to receive public input.