On December 30, 2002 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Entergy's License (FERC) renewed for another 50 years Entergy’s license to generate hydroelectric power at Carpenter and Remmel Dams.
Who is FERC?
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is the federal agency that grants authority to private interests to dam public waterways and use those impoundments for hydroelectric generation. Entergy first obtained a license in 1923. FERC regulates Electric, Hydro, Gas and Oil markets. For more information check out their website http://www.ferc.gov.
Remmel Dam, the older of the two dams, was the first major generating facility in Arkansas, built by Arkansas Power & Light under the leadership of Harvey Couch in 1923. Carpenter Dam was built 9 years later by AP&L, which later became Entergy. Both are on the Ouachita River. Remmel Dam creates Lake Catherine and Carpenter Dam creates Lake Hamilton. The dams and lakes together form Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project #271.
The two hydroelectric stations can generate 65.3 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 50,000 homes.
Under the license issued by FERC, Entergy has numerous responsibilities regarding both the operation of the dams and the management of the shoreline of the associated lakes. “Harvey Couch would be very pleased to see that in 2003-- and now looking ahead through 2053 -- his dream endures. His project continues to benefit the people of Arkansas as a source of recreation, scenic beauty, and emission-free electricity,” said Doug Sikes, manager of Entergy Hydro Operations.
The renewed license is similar to the previous one, but there are some differences in what it requires of Entergy.
The general nature and purpose of the license will not change. Entergy is still responsible for facilitating general recreational use of the lakes and managing non-project use (docks, seawalls, etc.) in a manner that protects and enhances the project’s scenic, recreational and environmental value.
However, the license is more specific and, in some cases, more restrictive in how Entergy is required to fulfill its obligations. Many of the changes involve environmental considerations.
One of the biggest changes in our new FERC License is how Entergy releases water from Remmel Dam into the Ouachita River. Under the FERC license, Entergy releases a minimum of 200 to 400 CFS continuously.
The monthly flow requirements are:
January & February – 300 CFS
March – 400 CFS
April – 350 CFS
May and December – 250 CFS
June through November – 200 CFS
This change will improve fish habitat in the river, which should improve recreational fishing. Also, this makes the river from Remmel Dam to Rockport floatable by canoe.
For the benefit of lakefront property residents, Entergy has agreed to limit the amount of daily lake level fluctuations to 24 inches on Lake Catherine and 12 inches on Lake Hamilton and to consult with the AGFC on annual lake drawdowns.
Flow Releases for Recreation
For the benefit of whitewater enthusiasts, the license calls for “full generation flow” three hours each Saturday and Sunday afternoon Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. In addition, there will be up to four special releases annually to accommodate emergency training exercises and other education-oriented events.
Public Notification of Water Releases
To help people plan recreational activities on and around the lakes, both the Entergy Hydro Web site and the hydro information phone line (501-844-2148) will be updated on a regular basis to provide information on flow release plans. In addition, interested persons can subscribe to receive weekly e-mail notifications of flow release plans. To subscribe, go to the “Lakes and Flow News” link and follow the instructions.
Shoreline Management Plan
Historical Properties Management Plan
The Hot Springs area is rich in cultural history, and the license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assigns Entergy a role in preserving that history for the benefit of future generations.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 created the National Register of Historic Places. Being placed on the register – or even meeting the criteria for eventual placement on the register – places certain restrictions on use of those places. The FERC license assigns to Entergy some responsibilities for protecting historical properties, including archeological sites, within the project boundary.
The FERC license requires Entergy to use a Historical Properties Management Plan (HPMP). The plan extends reasonable protection to all existing and future historic properties within the project boundaries. Certain construction activities will require more extensive review by Entergy, the state historic preservation officer, as well as the Caddo and Quapaw Indian Tribes, for historical and archeological protection. This includes activities at the dams and ground disturbance construction activities associated with shoreline docking and access facilities. This requirement has add steps in reviewing some requests for shoreline facility and activity permits.
Minimum Flow Turbine
The license allows for Entergy to add a modern turbine at Remmel Dam that can generate electricity with continuous low-water flows. The addition is not a requirement, but an option Entergy may exercise if it should become economically viable at some point during the life of the license. The continuous flow from Remmel Dam, which Entergy will provide with or without a new turbine, provides environmental benefits in the Ouachita River.