PSI: Feds want better explanation from Duke Energy

By Jamie Boll - bio l email

Produced by Jeff Keene - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Federal regulators are not satisfied with Duke Energy's response to their questions about winter flooding on Lookout Shoals Lake in Catawba County.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is requesting more information from the Charlotte based energy giant which has a federal license to manage water levels on the Catawba River.

FERC first requested information from Duke in late January after floodwaters spilled into backyards and topped roadways.

Duke responded in late February, but FERC in a letter sent on March 22 says it needs "additional information, corrections and clarifications."

(Click here to read FERC's letter to Duke Energy.)

"We will provide additional clarifications," said Duke Energy spokesperson Andy Thompson.

In its letter FERC calls some of Duke's datum "unnecessarily confusing."  It also says some numbers "appear to be in error" and it says "it appears Lookout Shoals Lake experienced high flows longer than this event required."

Duke Energy maintains it does all it can to keep water from rising to flood levels.  It says the area flooded on Lookout Shoals, called Carpenters Cove, is in a low-lying flood-prone area.

"We tried to point out the facts of the situation and that is we had significant back to back rainfall events," said Thompson.  "We had flows in the Catawba River that we're 20 times above normal."

Lookout Shoals has seen a lot of high water in recent months.  The lake had been above full pond 43 days in the eight months between July 2009 and February 2010 leading to a lot of frustration for property owners.

"This old veteran has had all he's going to take," said long-time Lookout Shoals resident Rex Bumgarner.

Duke Energy's main way of controlling water levels on Lookout Shoals is to push water through its hydro station.

Duke said it runs the plant as hard as it can run, but its own data shows the plant often sat quiet in the hours leading up to heavy rainfall.

Lookout Shoals Lake has been below full pond since February 10.

FERC wants answers, clarifications and corrections by April 5. The results could be important because Duke Energy is in the process of renewing its federal license to manage the Catawba River.

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