The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District completed its actions to evaluate and update a new operating agreement with Duke Energy. The new operating agreement would equalize the percent of remaining usable storage capacity at Duke Energy’s Jocassee and Keowee Lakes during droughts with the remaining usable storage at the Corps of Engineers’ Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond Reservoirs.
Savannah District completed its actions to evaluate and update its operating agreement between Duke Energy, the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that describes how Duke Energy will release water from its upstream reservoirs to the downstream federal reservoirs.
The District signed the Finding Of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) on October 10, 2014 and signed the new operating agreement with Duke Energy and SEPA on October 17, 2014.
The following projects in the Duke Energy system are included in the new agreement: Keowee-Toxaway (Jocassee and Keowee), Oconee Nuclear Station, and Bad Creek. The following projects in the Corps system are included in the new agreement: Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and Thurmond Reservoirs.
Both the 1968 Agreement and the alternatives balance the percent of remaining usable storage between Duke Energy and Corps reservoirs during droughts. The 1968 Agreement and the new agreement would keep the reservoirs in the Duke Energy and Corps systems from reaching the bottom of their conservation pools during the drought of record.
The new agreement would result in Duke drawing the Keowee Project down to 790 feet MSL during a severe drought and incorporates Duke’s drought tolerance measures (Low Inflow Protocol) to coordinate drought response to protect water supplies in upper basin. All alternatives to the 1968 Agreement incorporate the Corps’ 2012 Drought Plan. The minimum flows that downstream users would experience would remain the same because the Corps would continue to implement the 2012 Drought Plan rules. The Selected Alternative (A3) includes mitigation to fully compensate for adverse impacts to recreation in the Corps reservoirs.
FINDINGS: The new operating agreement with Duke Energy for the Savannah River Basin would result in no significant environmental impacts and is the alternative that represents sound natural resource management practices and environmental standards. A copy of the Final EA and appendices can be found at the links below: