Duke Energy wins Yadkin River hydro license

Duke Energy Progress has won a 40-year federal license to manage its hydroelectric project on the Yadkin-Pee Dee River east of Charlotte.

The license, which replaces one that expired in 2008, lets Duke continue operating its hydro plants on Lake Tillery and Blewett Falls Lake. During a year of normal rainfall, the two plants generate enough electricity to power about 25,000 homes.

The new license includes benefits negotiated with government agencies, advocacy groups and members of the public.

Among them:

▪ Fish passages for two migratory fish species, American shad and blueback herring, which once spawned upstream of Duke’s dams.

▪ Three new recreation facilities and improvements to all company-owned recreation areas on both lakes. Seasonal, scheduled releases from Lake Tillery will benefit paddlers.

▪ Conveyance of about 1,600 acres to the state and protective easements on Duke property around the lakes.

Legal challenges delayed the license’s renewal after Duke filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2006.

Duke is still waiting for a new hydro license for the Catawba River, which has also been snarled in legal challenges for nearly a decade. Legal issues in that case have been resolved, however.

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Twitter: @bhender