Northern States Power Company – Wisconsin (NSPW) d/b/a Xcel Energy currently holds a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate and maintain the White River Hydroelectric Project (White River Project). The current license, which designated the Project as FERC No. 2444, expires on July 31, 2025. To receive a new license from the FERC, NSPW 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 July 31, 2020.
Project Description and Overview
The White River Project is located on the White River in the town of White River in Ashland County, Wisconsin.
The FERC issued a new license on August 29, 1995, effective August 1, 1995. The White River Project has an installed capacity of 1.2 MW.
White River is operated in a run-of-river mode. A minimum flow of 16 cfs, or inflow, whichever is less is released at all times into the bypass reach of the White River immediately below the White River Dam. Reservoir elevations are required to be maintained between 710.4 feet and 711.6 feet NGVD. FERC approved a temporary increase in the maximum operating elevation to 712.6 feet NGVD in 2016 to allow repairs to Unit 1 and testing of the unit. Based upon testing completed thus far, NSPW plans to request making the temporary operating range permanent.
NSPW owns 76.9 acres of land within the project boundary, primarily adjacent to the dam and powerhouse. The remaining lands within the project are privately owned.
The White River Reservoir encompasses approximately 45.1-acres and has a storage capacity of approximately 315.7 acre-feet at reservoir elevation 712.1 feet NGVD. The reservoir has a maximum depth of 26 feet, and an average depth of 7 feet.
There are several recreational facilities in the vicinity of the White River Project. The major recreation facilities are listed below:
- White River Boat Landing and Canoe Portage Take-out
- White River Tailrace Fishing Area
- White River Canoe Portage Put-in
NSPW 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, a request was filed asking FERC to allow NSPW 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. NSPW’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 August 31, 2020. Once FERC approves utilizing the TLP for relicensing, stage one of the formal three-stage consultation process begins. In accordance with this schedule, within 30 days of receiving TLP approval from FERC, NSPW will issue the Notice for a Joint Meeting with resource agencies and Indian tribes. The Joint Meeting will be held no later than November 28, 2020. Comments on the PAD are due by January 27, 2021.
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 January 27, 2021 and March 27, 2021, with any negotiated studies being conducted between April 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022.
It is anticipated that preparation of the Draft License Application (DLA) will begin by July 3, 2022 and will be filed by March 3, 2023. Stakeholder review of the DLA is expected to occur between March 3, 2023 and June 2, 2023 (90 days).
Preparation of the Final License Application (FLA) is expected to begin by June 2, 2023, with an anticipated filing date with FERC by July 31, 2023. Once the FLA is filed, stage three consultation would begin.
It is anticipated the following will occur between July 31, 2023 and July 31, 2025:
- 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 July 31, 2025.
For more information contact Matt Miller at 715-737-1353, or written communication related to the White River 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
Traditional Licensing Process
Recreation Facilities in the Project Vicinity Map
Current and Proposed Project Boundary Map
Cover Letter / Notice of Intent
Pre-Application Document (Appendix Part 1, Appendix Part 2)
Hydro Power Licensing Get Involved A Guide for the Public