Northern States Power Company, a Wisconsin Corporation (NSPW or Licensee) currently operates the Gile Flowage Storage Reservoir Project (Gile Flowage or Project) (FERC Docket No. 15055) under a permit issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The purpose of the Project is to augment flow in the West Fork of the Montreal River during low flow periods for hydroelectric generation at its two downstream projects, the Saxon Falls Project (Saxon Falls) and the Superior Falls Project (Superior Falls). Both downstream projects are licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission). 

On December 30, 2019, NSPW filed a Preliminary Application Document (PAD) and Notice of Intent (NOI) to relicense both Saxon Falls and Superior Falls. Subsequent to FERC’s review of the PAD, they requested additional information regarding the generation benefits that the two downstream projects receive from the Gile Flowage. NSPW provided a downstream benefits analysis for the Gile Flowage to the Commission on February 22, 2020. Upon reviewing the analysis, FERC determined that Gile Flowage provides a significant contribution to generation at both downstream projects. Consequently, the Commission issued an order on August 19, 2020 determining that the Gile Flowage Storage Reservoir Project is required to be licensed by the Commission. NSPW began the licensing process by submittal of a NOI and PAD to the FERC on November 16, 2020.

Project Description and Overview
The Gile Flowage Storage Reservoir is located on the West Fork of the Montreal River in the Towns of Carey and Pence in Iron County, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission Order issued on August 26, 1937, set the maximum elevation at 1490.0 feet NGVD. The flowage has been historically operated with a maximum drawdown of 15 feet to elevation 1475.0 ft NGVD. While a 15-foot drawdown is allowed, the amount of drawdown has been minimized. Between 1984 and 2017 the summer drawdown averaged 5.2 feet (minimum-1.8 feet, maximum-7.8 feet) and the winter drawdown has averaged 7.8 feet (minimum-1.4 feet, maximum-10.9 feet). A minimum flow of 10 cfs minimum flow has historically been released downstream into the West Branch of the Montreal River, in accordance with an agreement with the Village of Montreal.

NSPW owns the lands containing Project facilities including the dam, reservoir and the majority of shoreline areas to elevation 1490.0 feet NGVD. Submerged lands are either owned in fee title or flowage rights have been obtained for them.

The Gile Flowage encompasses approximately 3,454 acres and has a usable storage capacity of 32,713 acre-feet with a 15-foot drawdown. The flowage has a maximum depth of 25 feet.

Recreation Facilities
There are several recreational facilities in the vicinity of the Gile Flowage. The major recreation facilities are listed below:
• Gile Dam Canoe Portage

• Sucker Hole Landing
• Town of Pence Landing
• County Hwy C Landing
• Gile Park

Process Description
NSPW filed a NOI to file an application with FERC to obtain a license for the Project. The NOI was accompanied by a PAD. Pursuant to 18 CFR, Section 5.5, the filing of the NOI marked the beginning of the licensing process and sets the schedule for further licensing activities. In addition to filing the PAD and NOI, NSPW filed a request asking FERC 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 was included in the submittal.

The initial activities on the TLP plan and schedule included filing the PAD and NOI, as well as the request to use the TLP. Comments regarding the proposed use of the TLP were required to be filed with FERC no later than December 17, 2020. Several stakeholders opposed use of the TLP.

FERC denied use of the TLP on January 19, 2021.  This resulted in the Applicant utilizing the default Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) for licensing activities.  Under the ILP Schedule, NSPW filed a Proposed Study Plan (PSP) by May 1, 2021 and held a PSP meeting with stakeholders by May 20, 2021.  Stakeholder comments were due by July 30, 2021.  Once comments on the PSP were received, NSPW prepared and filed a Revised Study Plan on August 28, 2021.  Stakeholder comments on the RSP were due by September 13, 2021.  Commission Staff issued their study plan determination on September 24, 2021.  NSPW filed the Initial Study Report (ISR) on September 28, 2022 and held an ISR meeting with stakeholders on October 6, 2022.  The Updated Study Report (USR) will be filed by September 28, 2023, and a USR meeting will be held by October 13, 2023.  NSPW must file the Draft License Application by March 21, 2023.  NSPW filed the Draft License Application on March 17, 2023.  The Final License Application must be filed by August 18, 2023.

It is anticipated the following will occur between August 18, 2023 and August 18, 2025:

• NSPW will file the USR
• FERC review of the FLA

• FERC will issue an acceptance letter
• Stakeholders will submit comments

• FERC will scope under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
• FERC will prepare a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
• FERC will consult to resolve issues, if any, under Federal Power Act Section 10(j)
• FERC will prepare a final EA or EIS

Based on this anticipated schedule, FERC could issue a License Order by August 18, 2025.

For more information contact Matt Miller at 715-737-1353, or written communication related to the Gile Flowage Storage Reservoir Project licensing can be mailed to:

Matthew J. Miller
Environmental Analyst
Xcel Energy Corporation
1414 W Hamilton Avenue, PO Box 8
Eau Claire, WI 54702-0008
Phone 715-737-1353