7/30/2008
CONTINUED DRY WEATHER CAUSES SMITH MOUNTAIN PROJECT FLOW REDUCTION;
VARIANCE APPROVED TO ACCOMMODATE LAKE AND DOWNSTREAM INTERESTS

ROANOKE, Va., July, 30, 2008 – Appalachian Power has received authorization from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a variance of minimum flow requirements from the Smith Mountain hydroelectric project to help raise lake levels at the facility while maintaining adequate downstream  river flow. 
 
The new flow variance was put into effect Tuesday, July 29.
 
The variance request was made last week after water levels and other important factors were reached. At 6:00 a.m., July 23, the adjusted elevation of Smith Mountain Lake measured 793.38 feet, almost two feet below the “full pond” level of 795 feet. The “adjusted elevation” indicates what level the lake would be if water currently held for reuse in the lower Leesville Lake were pumped back into Smith Mountain Lake. At the same time water inflow into the project was measured at 201 cubic feet per second (cfs) and discharge from Leesville Dam was 650 cfs.
 
According to Teresa Rogers, Appalachian’s reservoir manager,  the company requested the variance after consultation with representatives of DEQ, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Conservation and recreation, the Smith Mountain Lake Association, other lake and downstream stakeholders and Dominion Virginia Power which also operates power generating facilities downstream. “This group has been meeting by way of conference calls on a regular basis since June. Last Wednesday there was consensus that, based on low inflow, it was time to make a release modification,” Rogers said. 
 
“The project levels have been dropping slowly for some time,” Rogers noted. ”However, our weather forecasts are calling for increased rainfall in the watershed over the next two weeks or so. This group believes lowering the minimum required discharge somewhat will help refill the project more quickly and, at the same time, contribute to safety, recreation and commercial needs on the reservoir and downstream.”
          
The DEQ authorization approves the following:

  • Appalachian will  release a minimum daily average of 500 cfs from Leesville Dam into the Staunton River while maintaining a minimum 600 cfs river flow at Brookneal.  If Brookneal flows increase to 700 cfs, then flow adjustments will be made to lower the Brookneal flow to the minimum target of 600 cfs.  However, the minimum release from Leesville will not drop below 400 cfs. The revised flow is a variance of minimum flow conditions of 650 cfs established in the company’s operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • The release will be modified on weekends so that a flow of 650 cfs, measured on the river at Long Island, Va., begins at or near 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays during the variance period and continues until 8:00 p.m. the following Sunday. For Labor Day weekend, releases of 650 cfs will continue until 8:00 p.m. on Monday.
  • The variance will end 45 days after approval or when the lake reaches 794 feet adjusted elevation.   Releases may be revisited if the area experiences a significant rainfall event or if other conditions affect levels or generation operations.    
           
If conditions have not improved near the end of the variance period, Appalachian will again consult the stakeholders regarding need to extend the variance. That extension would require the approval of FERC.
 
Interested lake and river users may view current flow and elevation readings for Smith Mountain Project and other hydroelectric generating facilities operated by Appalachian Power and its parent company American Electric Power at this site: http://www.aep.com/environmental/recreation/hydro 
 
Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility located in southwestern Virginia that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake.  Most of the water is retained in Leesville Lake and pumped back into the Smith Mountain Lake for re-use.  A portion of the water goes through the turbine-generators at the Leesville powerhouse to generate additional electricity and to meet the minimum discharge requirements of the project´s FERC license. Construction began on the project in 1960 and it went into operation in 1965.
 
Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.
 
###

John Shepelwich
Manager State Corporate Communications
jeshepelwich@AEP.com

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