Deadline for comment on the draft EIS is 8 May. The final EIS is expected to be issued in November.

The scheme is located over the Catawba and Wateree river catchments, and comprises 11 reservoirs and 13 developments.

At present, the scheme is being operated under an annual licence following the expiration of the previous, main licence in August last year.

Duke submitted the application in August 2006, and a revised comprehensive relicensing agreement in December that year that included environmental improvements for flow rates, water quality, habitats for endangered species, and also recreation. Then, in March 2007 – shortly after the public scoping process began – a supplement and clarification to the application was submitted.

No changes to installed capacity have been sought in the application.

In reviewing the application, FERC staff have produced their own alternative to the Duke proposal for relicensing, which adds to the utility’s plans various actions, such as: installation of a bladder dam to Wateree dam to help flood management; wider agency consultation in low flow conditions; implementation of flow ramping when increasing or decreasing releases for recreation; a number of additions to plant and wildlife measures; and revised public safety plans.