Last week, the Brazos River Authority advised that it received notice from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that, effective March 12, surrender of its FERC hydroelectric generation license at Possum Kingdom Lake was complete.
The process required decommissioning of the existing hydroelectric generating facility, Judi Pierce, BRA information officer, reported.
What it means for property owners at Possum Kingdom Lake, formerly lessees, is that the 25-foot set back from the 1,000-foot contour line now belongs to the adjacent property owner, as specified in HB 3031, the bill that authorized the sale of residential leaseholds by BRA.
“We've been working with BRA counsel for a notice to be filed in the next few days in each county,” said Mike Patterson, of Patterson PK Land Partnership, the group that purchased the residential leases for resale to lease holders. “Once that's filed, they (title companies) start releasing any escrows.”
But that doesn't mean property owners can start building onto that 25-foot zone.
“Covenants and restrictions included in HB 3031 and SB 918 established a 25-foot no build zone,” Pierce noted. “However, structures already located in that area may remain in place and be rebuilt. This is not a BRA restriction, it is included in the covenants and restrictions filed of record in accordance with the bills passed by the legislature.”
And restrictions below the 1,000-foot contour line still apply — in other words, no building or other modifications without BRA approval.
Decommissioning involved nearly three years of construction to permanently disable the 73-year-old plant's hydroelectric functions, and required maintaining the ability to provide for water supply releases from the dam, BRA officials noted.
The decommissioning process was initiated in December 2011 with a written application to FERC requesting authorization to permanently cease hydroelectric generation operations at the facility. To meet FERC requirements for surrender, the BRA was directed to permanently disable generation capability. This was accomplished by dismantling the project's two penstocks (large water pipes) that conveyed water from the reservoir to the turbines located inside the powerhouse. In addition, two 6,900-volt circuits which connected the project's generators to the electrical distribution grid were removed. In accordance with the FERC approved decommissioning process, these actions rendered the facility permanently incapable of generating or delivering power.
Included in the decommissioning project was installation of a controlled outlet conduit. This conduit is an 86-inch diameter pipe that allows BRA to release water from the reservoir without the necessity of opening the dam's floodgates in order to provide water for beneficial uses throughout the basin.
The facility, put into service in 1941, ceased power production in 2007 after evaluation by several engineering firms identified safety issues with the electric generating infrastructure. In light of the extensive upgrades necessary to restore the aging facility for future use, BRA began evaluating the feasibility of maintaining the hydroelectric capability. Ultimately, the BRA Board of Directors voted to apply for decommissioning after conducting extensive economic analysis which concluded that the required renovation, re-licensing and continued operation of the facility was no longer viable.