Northern States Power Company-Wisconsin (NSPW or Licensee) d/b/a Xcel Energy 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.
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The Gile Flowage 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 3,317 acres and has a usable storage capacity of 37,064 acre-feet with a 15-foot drawdown. The flowage has a maximum depth of 25 feet.
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There are several recreational facilities in the vicinity of the Gile Flowage. The major recreation facilities are listed below:
• Sucker Hole Landing
• Pence Park Landing
• County C Landing
• Gile Park Landing
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NSPW filed a NOI to file an application with FERC to obtain a new license for the Project. The NOI was accompanied by a 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, 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 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 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 must file a Proposed Study Plan (PSP) by May 1, 2021 and hold a PSP meeting with stakeholders by May 31, 2021. Stakeholder comments are due by July 30, 2021. Once comments on the PSP are received, NSPW will prepare and file a Revised Study Plan (RSP) by August 29, 2021. Stakeholder comments on the RSP are due by September 13, 2021. NSPW will file an Initial Study Report (ISR) by September 28, 2022 and hold an ISR meeting with stakeholders by October 13, 2022. If necessary, an Updated Study Report 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 and the Final License Application by August 18, 2023.
It is anticipated the Draft License Application (DLA) will be filed by early 2023. Stakeholder review of the DLA occurs within 90 days of filing. The Final License Application (FLA) will be filed with FERC by August 18, 2023. Once the FLA is filed, stage three consultation begins.
It is anticipated the following will occur between August 18, 2023 and August 18, 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 August 18, 2025.
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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
Hydro License Compliance Consultant
Xcel Energy Corporation
1414 W Hamilton Avenue, PO Box 8
Eau Claire, WI 54702-0008
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Gile Flowage Facility Data
Traditional Licensing Process
Recreation Facilities in the Gile Flowage Vicinity Map
Gile Flowage Facility Boundary Map
Notice of Intent
Pre-Application Document (Appendix Part 1, Appendix Part 2)
Hydro Power Licensing Get Involved A Guide for the Public
Integrated Licensing Process
Proposed Study Plan (Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C-E, Appendix F-G, Appendix H-Q)