Exelon Generation has announced that it has reached an historic settlement agreement with the State of Maryland that will protect the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay and preserve Maryland’s largest source of renewable energy, the Conowingo Dam. 

The agreement, which must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is a critical step for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and provides for significant contributions to protect and enhance the health of the bay, including improving water quality, fish and eel passage, marine habitats, and debris removal. The comprehensive agreement will also provide for the continued production of hyroelectricity from the dam. The agreement resolves all outstanding issues arising from the Maryland Department of the Environment water quality certificate.

“Exelon Generation and the State of Maryland share a commitment to restoring and sustaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay, which has been strengthened by this agreement,” said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. “This is a victory for clean energy and the long-term preservation of the Chesapeake Bay. The agreement is designed to substantially improve water quality while ensuring Maryland’s largest source of renewable energy continues to deliver environmental and economic benefits for the next generation.”

Highlights of the comprehensive agreement include

  • Continued commitments valued at $41 million to address debris accumulation, including an engineering study examining additional methods to divert debris before it reaches the dam, and employment of clamming, skimming, or other equally effective means of debris removal.
  • $11 million of improvements to eel passage that will help facilitate mussel restoration with its benefits to nutrient reductions, plus a contribution of $1 million to fund eel passage research.
  • Modifications to river flow valued at $52 million to enhance habitat for aquatic species like American shad and river herring, that reside downstream of the dam, and submerged aquatic vegetation, which trap sediment, remove pollution and serve as a vital habitat to spawning and rearing fish.

The benefits to Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay are valued at more than $200 million over the anticipated 50-year life of the license, which will be funded from the dam’s earnings over that time period, said Exelon.