FERC Licensing of the Gile Flowage
Gile Dam Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Licensing: Xcel Energy owns and maintains the hydro-electric facilities on the Montreal River including the Gile Flowage and Dam, and the Saxon and Superior Falls hydro facilities. Xcel was in the process of a scheduled re-licensing of the Saxon and Superior Falls facilities, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that the Gile Flowage contributes to hydro-electric generation and is therefore required to be federally licensed. Until this point, the Gile Dam had been managed under a "gentleman's agreement."
Friends of the Gile Flowage (FOG) was engaged as a registered stakeholder from the very beginning of the re-Saxon and Superior Falls hydro facilities relicensing because water from the Gile Flowage is necessary for their operation. FOG has become an even more active local voice on the FERC licensing of the Gile Flowage.
Issuing a first time FERC license for the Gile Dam and Flowage is a major development for the Flowage and Xcel Energy. The FERC licensing process is complex and requires studies and stakeholder consultations. The FERC license is expected to be issued in fall, 2023.
On November 17, 2020 Xcel released its Preliminary Application Document (PAD) which is a first step in licensing the Gile Dam and Flowage. This large document outlines the proposed project plan and stated Xcel's intention to use a Traditional Licensing Process for the project. Project stakeholders, like FOG, had until mid-December to comment on the licensing process.
After polling the Board, FOG submitting a letter to FERC requesting the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) be used instead of the Traditional Licensing Process. The ILP requires more stakeholder involvement in requesting studies and resolution of issues in the licensing process. A copy of FOG's letter(below) explains our rationale. Other letters supporting the ILP process were submitted by the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, American Whitewater Assoc, and private citizens. There were no letters of dissent from stakeholders on the ILP option.
Xcel countered these requests with a letter to FERC on 12/10/20 advocating for the Traditional Process.
FERC decides for the ILP Process: On 1/19/20 FERC denied Xcel's request and ruled that the Gile Dam licensing will be done under the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP).
Xcel Energy issues Gile Dam/Flowage Scoping Process: On 1/19/20, FERC also issued a Scoping Document outlining the process for the Gile Flowage project. FOG and other stakeholders responded by submitting recommendations. These documents are archived below.
Xcel issues Gile Flowage Study Plans on April 30, 2021. FOG and other stakeholders respond with additional recommendations that are archived below.
FERC Issues Gile Flowage Study Plan. After reviewing Xcel's and stakeholder recommendations, FERC issued this study plan to assess environmental and recreational impacts of Xcel's Gile Flowage operation. Studies will be conducted in 2021 and 2022 and the results inform the licensing process.
Licensing Timeline: The target date of fall 2023 for Xcel to file its final licensing application to FERC.
Xcel's FERC licensing documentation including Initial Draft Study Plan, Whitewater Study Videos and more helpful information is available at: Gile Flowage | (hydrorelicensing.com) .
As part of the Gile Flowage licensing, Xcel has decided to sell it's riparian (shoreland) property from the elevation of 1490 ft. (also called the Ordinary High Water Mark) of the Flowage to the adjacent upland landowner. The property offered for sale will be from the 1490 ft. elevation to the 1495 ft. or 1500 ft. elevation, depending on the adjacent landowner's deed. Xcel's shoreland properties were surveyed and marked in winter, 2019. Adjacent landowners are not required to purchase Xcel's adjacent riparian land, but all encroachments must be removed, the land restored to its "natural" state, and it will remain open to the public. Sales offers are being sent first to landowners who had structural encroachments on Xcel's riparian land. For more details on Xcel's riparian land sales and important consideration for purchase and use, please see the Xcel Riparian Land Sales folder below.