4/21/2006
FERC CHANGE TO SHORELINE PLAN INCLUDES SOME RESTRICTIONS;
SEASONAL PILE DRIVING WILL REQUIRE INSPECTIONS FIRST

FERC CHANGE   TO SHORELINE PLAN INCLUDES SOME RESTRICTIONS;
SEASONAL PILE DRIVING WILL REQUIRE INSPECTIONS FIRST
 
ROANOKE, Va., April 21, 2006 – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order approving Appalachian Power’s request for an amendment to part of the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for its Smith Mountain Pumped Storage Project in southwestern Virginia.

The order essentially eliminates an annual two-month (April 15 through June 15) restriction on in-water impact pile driving at the project’s two lakes. Other seasonal restrictions listed in the SMP will continue to be enforced.

In lifting the pile-driving ban, however, the commission has established requirements that will provide protection to fish habitats in the event they are found to be within a work site. It requires that prior to pilings either being installed or removed during the same two-month period, the pre-approved construction site must be inspected for the existence of largemouth bass nests.

Prior to performing work, dock owners or contractors installing or removing pilings must visually inspect the site for nests. Appalachian Power’s office in Rocky Mount   must be contacted and notified as to the date the work is to begin and documentation provided that an inspection for largemouth bass nests has been performed.  Company staff will perform follow-up inspections at selected sites to confirm the findings as reported to them. If a nest is detected where a proposed pile would be driven, the proposed pile must be relocated to a nest-free area or the pile-driving work will be delayed until after June 15.

For construction locations where a separate FERC order has been issued, the new order will not apply. However, those permit holders will be able to contact Appalachian to request relief from FERC as appropriate. 

Contractors and dock owners will be looking for near-shore spawning activities which typically occur in 1 to 6 feet of water.   Bass create crater-like depressions (nests) in the substrate and the males will occupy the nests until the eggs hatch.  Nests vary in size depending on species, but typically range from 12 to 20 inches in diameter.  Males occupy the nest to guard the eggs from predators, prevent the eggs from being silted over and provide water movement over the eggs. 

Largemouth bass nests are usually separated by at least 6 feet.  Other species may create nests very close together forming honey-comb patterns.  Bass can create nests in a relatively short period of time, so inspecting the shore one day and finding no nests does not assure nests will not be present the next day.  It is recommended that if lack of water clarity prohibits making a nest presence or absence determination, the site should be revisited once water clarity improves.    
       
Contractors or property owners may contact Ken Stump at Appalachian Power at (540)489-2543 or (540)489-2556 during regular business hours for additional information or to report an inspection. Appalachian’s SMP and the FERC order may be found on-line at www.smithmtn.com.

Appalachian Power last month requested a lifting of the ban on pile driving after expert opinion indicated that the specific restriction would have only a limited impact at best on protection of fish habitats and nests during spawning season.  

Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.  It is a unit of American Electric Power, the nation’s largest electricity generator.  AEP owns more than 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity and is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states.


John Shepelwich
Manager, State Corporate Communications
(540) 985-2968; mobile (540)588-1785
jeshepelwich@AEP.com

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