DUKE POWER HAS TENTATIVELY agreed to the decommissioning of the Dillsboro hydro dam on the Tuckasegee river in North Carolina, US. The tentative agreement came as Duke, local governments and interest groups negotiated new licence terms for Duke’s 10 hydro projects in southwestern North Carolina.

Duke has removed at least two other dams. One, breached in 1969, was near Pilot Mountain on the Ararat river, near the Virginia line north of Charlotte. A dam on the Enoree river, in Spartanburg County, southwest of Charlotte, was taken out in 1968. Taking out the Dillsboro dam would be a boon to boaters and fish, adding an unimpeded 17.7km to the Tuckasegee, for a total of 51.5km of free-flowing river above Fontana lake.

The rock and masonry dam was built in the early 1920s. Nantahala Power and Light, which Duke acquired in 1988, bought it in 1957. At 3.7m high and 94.5m long, it is the smallest of Duke’s 31 hydro plants, and the second-smallest North Carolina dam licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It produces about 1350MWh a year, an amount Duke’s 10 other hydro plants in the area can replace in less than a day.