COLUMBIA, S.C. (Jan. 8, 2007) – Due to recent wet weather patterns over the Saluda River basin that have caused the level on Lake Murray to rise rapidly, SCE&G plans to operate the Saluda Hydroelectric Plant on a frequent basis this week. With continued wet weather in the forecast, greater use of Saluda Hydroelectric may continue so as to offset lake level impacts from the recent higher inflows.
The lower Saluda River will experience increased flows this week due to the hydroelectric plant’s operation. Recreational users of the river are advised to use caution for any activities on the river and to mind all warning signals and sirens.
“Our goal is to manage lake levels between the 354- and 356-foot mark through the winter,” said Jim Landreth, vice president of Fossil and Hydro Operations for SCE&G. “But recent heavy rains over the entire river basin have caused the lake to quickly rise above 357 feet. We are in the process of bringing it down closer to 356 and plan to keep it around that mark.”
According to Landreth, SCE&G will try to keep the lake level at the higher end of the range (the 356-foot level) through the spring and target 358 feet for going into the summer recreation season.
“The reason for keeping the lake level higher in the off-season than we have in the past is two-fold,” said Landreth. “First of all, SCE&G will be conducting two studies on the Lower Saluda in early and late spring that will have a minor impact on lake level. Each study will potentially lower the lake only a few inches, but by keeping the water higher, the impact should be lessened.
“Secondly, we want to be prepared if we have a repeat of the lack of rain that we experienced last year,” continued Landreth. “The Saluda River basin experienced drought-like conditions from March all the way into fall 2006.”
The studies are being conducted as part of the Saluda Hydroelectric Plant relicensing process. The first study will be a recreational rate of change study and will take place between Jan. 22 and Feb. 16. During that time, the plant will be operated to increase flow for a few hours on several occasions each week. The total impact to the lake level is expected to be less than four inches. A second study will take place in May that will also impact lake levels by less than four inches.
“Our goal is to space out the studies as much as possible to limit the impact on the lake,” said Landreth. “And even though each study will have a minimal impact on the lake level, we are committed to being as open and honest about our lake operations as we can.”
SCE&G will hold two public meetings Jan. 11 regarding Lake Murray and the Saluda Hydro relicensing process. The meetings are open to all and will take place at Saluda Shoals Park at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
South Carolina Electric & Gas Company is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 620,000 customers in 26 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 291,000 customers in 34 counties in the state. Information about SCE&G is available on the company’s web site at www.sceg.com.