MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Federal regulators have issued licenses for two hydroelectric power projects despite concerns raised by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

The Dominion Post of Morgantown reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given the green light to the projects located at the Morgantown and Opekiska locks and dams.

Boston-based Rye Development says it wants to complete the projects by the first quarter of 2019, and that the electricity generated from them would be enough to power about 3,800 homes.

The licenses for the hydroelectric plans don’t require further water quality certification from state regulators. That requirement was waived because the state Department of Environmental Protection misconstrued the deadline and filed its certification a month late, according to the federal agency.

“WVDEP is very disappointed in FERC’s actions,” said DEP spokesman Jake Glance. “We have 30 days to file a request for a rehearing.”

Recreational fishers have also raised concerns that the projects will limit access to the Monongahela River.

The federal order acknowledged that construction will temporarily displace shoreline angling. At the Morgantown site, a concrete platform used by anglers will have to be moved. But the company plans to build angler paths 90 feet upstream and 450 feet downstream of the dam.

Plans for the hydroelectric projects include routing the power through new substations to existing transmission lines in Mon Power’s footprint. But the utility said Friday that it has no knowledge of the projects or any purchase agreement for the new electric generation.

Barry Palley, the president of the Upper Monongahela River Association, questioned the decision to issue the licenses.

“This is beyond disappointing that FERC approved this,” he said. “We are extremely concerned about the implication of approving this without explicit protections and plans.”


Information from: The Dominion Post, http://www.dominionpost.com