8/14/2008

CONTINUED LOW INFLOW FORCES ADDITIONAL MODIFICATION OF SMITH MOUNTAIN PROJECT WATER DISCHARGE VARIANCE

ROANOKE, Va., Aug. 14, 2008 – A dramatically lower inflow into the Smith Mountain hydroelectric project has caused further changes in the amount of water being released downstream by Appalachian Power. 
 
The company received authorization last month from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a variance of minimum flow requirements to help raise lake levels at the facility while maintaining adequate Staunton River flow.  The variance was put into effect Tuesday, July 29.
 
When the variance request was made July 23, the adjusted elevation of Smith Mountain Lake measured 793.38 feet, almost two feet below the “full pond” level of 795 feet. The “adjusted elevation” indicates what level the lake would be if water currently held for reuse in the lower Leesville Lake were pumped back into Smith Mountain Lake. At the same time water inflow into the project was measured at 201 cubic feet per second (cfs). At 6:00 a.m. today, the adjusted level was 792.2 feet and inflow was 105 cfs. 
 
The original variance allowed Appalachian to release a minimum daily average of 500 cfs from Leesville Dam into the Staunton River while maintaining a minimum 600 cfs river flow at Brookneal.  However, it adjusted weekend flows to 650 cfs for downstream recreational purposes. Due to continued low inflows, the company will now provide a minimum discharge of approximately 480 cfs from Leesville Dam. The increased weekend flow of 650 cfs will occur only between 8 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays measured at Long Island, Va.
 
If conditions have not improved near the end of the original 45-day variance period, Appalachian will again consult stakeholders regarding need to seek an extended variance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
 
Appalachian urges all lake and river users to be cautious when boating, swimming or participating in other recreational activities on or near the project during lower than normal water levels caused by low rainfall.
Interested persons may view current flow and elevation readings for Smith Mountain Project and other hydroelectric generating facilities operated by Appalachian Power and its parent company American Electric Power at this site: http://www.aep.com/environmental/recreation/hydro 
 
Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility located in southwestern Virginia that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake passes through turbine generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake.  Most of the water is retained in Leesville Lake and pumped back into the Smith Mountain Lake for re-use.  A portion of the water goes through the turbine-generators at the Leesville powerhouse to generate additional electricity and to meet the minimum discharge requirements of the project´s FERC license. Construction began on the project in 1960 and it went into operation in 1965.
 
Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.
 
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John Shepelwich
Manager State Corporate Communications
jeshepelwich@AEP.com

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