Xcel Energy Corporation (Xcel Energy) currently holds a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate and maintain the Cornell Hydroelectric Project (Cornell). The current license, which designated the Project as FERC No. 2639, expires on November 30, 2023. To receive a new license from the FERC, Xcel Energy is required to begin the relicensing process by submittal of a Notice of Intent to relicense (NOI) and a pre-application document (PAD) to the FERC no later than November 30, 2018.
Project Description and Overview
Cornell is located on the Chippewa River in the City of Cornell in Chippewa County, Wisconsin.
The FERC issued an original license on December 26, 1973, effective December 1, 1973 to November 30, 2023. Cornell has an installed capacity of 30.75 MW.
Cornell is operated based upon the releases from the upstream Holcombe Hydroelectric Project. Cornell provides for a year-round minimum flow of 400 cubic feet per second (cfs) downstream to enhance aquatic habitat for recreational sportfish including walleye and channel catfish. The reservoir fluctuations are limited between 1,001.5 and 1,002.0 feet mean sea-level (MSL) from April 1 through June 7 and between 1,001.0 and 1,002.0 feet MSL from June 8 through Labor Day. During the remainder of the year, reservoir elevations are maintained between 1,000.0 and 1,002.0 feet MSL.
Xcel Energy owns limited land within the Cornell project boundary and the majority of the land it owns surrounds the dam and powerhouse.
The Cornell Reservoir, also known as the Cornell Flowage encompasses approximately 897 acres and has a storage capacity of approximately 7,005 acre-feet at normal reservoir elevation of 1,000.6 feet NGVD. The reservoir has a maximum depth of 55.7 feet and the water is moderately clear.
There are several recreational facilities in the vicinity of the Cornell. The major recreation facilities are listed below:
Brunet Island State Park
Ice Age Trail
Old Abe Trail
Mill Yard Park
Xcel Energy filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to file an application with FERC to obtain a new license for the Project. The NOI was accompanied by a Pre-Application Document (PAD). Pursuant to 18 CFR, Section 5.5, the filing of the NOI marks the beginning of the licensing process and sets the schedule for further licensing activities. In addition to filing the PAD and NOI, Xcel Energy filed a request asking FERC to allow Xcel Energy to utilize the Traditional Licensing Process (TLP). The request to use the TLP was filed as a related submittal under 18 CFR, Section 5.3. Xcel Energy’s rationale and justification for utilizing the TLP is included in the submittal.
The initial activities on the TLP plan and schedule include filing the PAD and NOI, as well as the request to use the TLP. Comments regarding the proposed use of the TLP must be filed with FERC no later than December 30, 2018. FERC approved utilizing the TLP on February 5, 2019. At which time, stage one of the formal three-stage consultation process began. In accordance with this schedule, within 30 days of receiving TLP approval from FERC, Xcel Energy will issue the Notice for a Joint Meeting with resource agencies and Indian tribes. The Joint Meeting will be held no later than March 19, 2019. Comments on the PAD are due by May 18, 2019.
Stage two consultation begins after written comments have been received on the PAD. It is anticipated this consultation stage will include negotiation of studies that may be needed to identify potential resource impacts. Negotiation is expected to occur between May 18, 2019 and June 15, 2019, with any negotiated studies being conducted between June 1, 2019 and January 25, 2021.
It is anticipated preparation of the Draft License Application (DLA) will begin by January 24, 2020 and will be filed by May 1, 2021. Stakeholder review of the DLA is expected to occur between May 1, 2021 and July 30, 2021 (90 days). If a joint stakeholder meeting is deemed necessary, the meeting is expected to occur by August 29, 2021.
Preparation of the Final License Application (FLA) is expected to begin by July 30, 2021, with an anticipated filing date with FERC by November 29, 2021. Once the FLA is filed, stage three consultation would begin.
It is anticipated the following will occur between November 29, 2021 and November 30, 2023:
- FERC review of the FLA
- Issuance of FERC acceptance letter
- Submittal of stakeholder comments, terms and conditions
- Scoping under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
- Preparation of Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
- Resolution of issues, if any, under Federal Power Act Section 10 (j)
- Preparation of final EA or EIS
Based on this anticipated schedule, FERC would issue a License Order by November 30, 2023.
For more information contact Matt Miller at 715-737-1353 or written communication related to the Cornell Hydroelectric Project relicensing can be mailed to:
Matthew J. Miller
Hydro License Compliance Consultant
Xcel Energy Corporation
1414 W Hamilton Avenue, PO Box 8
Eau Claire, WI 54702-0008
Project Data Sheet
Traditional Licensing Process
Updated Cornell Schedule
Project Location Map
Recreation Facilites in the Project Vicinity Map
Current Project Boundary and Ownership Map
Notice of Intent
Approval of use of Traditional Licensing Process
Hydro Power Licensing- Get Involved, A Guide for the Public