Xcel Energy Corporation (Xcel Energy) currently holds a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate and maintain the Saxon Falls Hydroelectric Project (Saxon Falls). The current license, which designated the Project as FERC No. 2610, expires on December 31, 2024. To receive a new license from the FERC, Xcel Energy was 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 December 31, 2019.
Project Description and Overview
Saxon Falls is located on the Montreal River in the Town of Saxon in Iron County, Wisconsin and in Ironwood Township in Gogebic County Michigan.
The FERC issued a subsequent license on December 22,1989, effective January 1, 1990. On July 18, 2014, the Licensee requested a license amendment for the Project to align the expiration date to coincide with that of the Superior Falls Project (P-2587). On November 6, 2014 the FERC issued an order extending the term of the Saxon Falls Project license to expire on December 31, 2024. Saxon Falls has an installed capacity of 1.5 MW.
Saxon Falls is operated in a run-of-river mode where discharge measured immediately downstream of the Project approximates the sum of inflows into the Project reservoir. A minimum flow of 5 cfs or inflow, whichever is less, is released during the ice-free season (ice-out to October 31). In order to minimize reservoir fluctuations, a minimum reservoir elevation of 997.0 feet NGVD is required to be maintained from ice-out to June 1. Between June 1 and ice-out, the reservoir is required to be maintained between elevations 996.5 and 997.0 feet NGVD.
Xcel Energy owns all lands located within the Saxon Falls Project boundary.
The Saxon Falls Reservoir encompasses approximately 69 acres and has a storage capacity of approximately 550 acre-feet at reservoir elevation 997.0 feet NGVD. The reservoir has a maximum depth of 12 feet.
There are several recreational facilities in the vicinity of the Saxon Falls Project. The major recreation facilities are listed below:
• Saxon Falls Boat Landing
• Saxon Falls Scenic Overlook
• Montreal River Canyon
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 were filed with FERC no later than January 29, 2020. FERC approved utilizing the TLP on February 13, 2020, 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 issued the Notice for a Joint Meeting with resource agencies and Indian tribes. A virtual Joint Meeting was held on April 9, 2020. Comments on the PAD were due by June 9, 2020.
Stage two consultation began after written comments were received on the PAD. This consultation included studies that were needed to identify potential resource impacts. Studies were conducted between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022. The Summary of Study Comments and Responses was filed with FERC on September 1, 2020.
The Draft License Application (DLA) was filed with FERC on July 6, 2020. Stakeholder review of the DLA took place between July 6 and October 4, 2022 (90 days).
Comments received on the DLA were addressed in the Final License Application (FLA). The FLA was filed with FERC on December 30, 2022. Stage three consultation began with the filing of the FLA.
It is anticipated the following will occur between December 30, 2022 and December 31, 2024:
- 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 December 31, 2024.
For more information contact Matt Miller at 715-737-1353, or written communication related to the Saxon Falls 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
Saxon Falls Project Data
Gile Flowage Facility Data
Traditional Licensing Process
Recreation Facilities in the Saxon Falls Project Vicinity Map
Saxon Falls Current and Proposed Boundary Map
Notice of Intent
Pre-Application Document (Appendix Part 1, Appendix Part 2)
Hydro Power Licensing Get Involved A Guide for the Public
Notice of Joint Agency Meeting
Summary of Study Comments and Responses
Draft License Application Cover Letter
Draft License Application Volume 1
Draft License Application Volume 2
Draft License Application Volume 3 – Part 1 (Appendices A1-E22)
Draft License Application Volume 3 – Part 2 (Appendices E23-E28)
Draft License Application Volume 3 – Part 3 (Appendices E29-E44)
Draft License Application Volume 3 – Part 4 (Appendices E45-E56)
Draft License Application Volume 4 – Part 1 (Pages 1-300)
Draft License Application Volume 4 – Part 2 (Pages 301-633)
Whitewater Study Video 700 cfs, Part 1
Whitewater Study Video 700 cfs, Part 2
Whitewater Study Video 700 cfs, Part 3
Whitewater Study Video 700 cfs, Part 4
Whitewater Study Video 950 cfs, Part 1
Whitewater Study Video 950 cfs, Part 2
Whitewater Study Video 950 cfs, Part 3
Aesthetic Study Video – 5 cfs
Aesthetic Study Video – 10 cfs
Aesthetic Study Video – 15 cfs
Aesthetic Study Video – 20 cfs
Aesthetic Study Video – 25 cfs
Final Licensing Application Cover Letter
Final Licensing Application Volume 1
Final Licensing Application Volume 2
Final Licensing Application Volume 3
Final Licensing Application Volume 4