Duke Energy has taken its case for a longer hydroelectric license to manage the Catawba River to a federal appeals court.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted Duke a 40-year license in November, but Duke wants a 50-year term.
On Monday, Duke asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review FERC’s November decision and a separate order in July that rejected Duke’s request for a longer license term.
The federal license lets Duke control 225 miles of the Catawba with a series of dams and reservoirs. It gives the company authority to manage lake levels, release water downstream and decide whether piers may be built.
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Duke said it will spend $18 million a year to install and operate the environmental measures such as fish passages around dams that the new license requires. That expense merited a longer license term, the company argued.
FERC disagreed, suggesting Duke’s cost estimates were unsupported.
“The nature and extent of these measures are not unusual for a large-sized project like the 819.102-MW Catawba-Wateree Project, and are similar to those required in other recent licenses that received 40-year terms,” the commission wrote in July.
Duke had committed in public negotiations over the license to sweeten its conservation spending if it won a 50-year license. The company would double the $3 million it will donate to state agencies to buy land for conservation, and add easements on 274 acres to the 2,455 acres it will protect.
Those commitments aren’t included in the 40-year license FERC granted.