After years of wrangling , Conowago hydro project gets OK

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a new license to Exelon Generation Company, LLC’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Project.

The project provides 570.15 megawatts of renewable capacity, which adds up to approximately 1.9 million megawatt-hours annually.

The dam and lake are located west of Newark on the Susquehanna River in Lancaster and York Counties in Pennsylvania, and Cecil and Harford Counties in Maryland.

The license resolves a complex proceeding that has been pending before the Commission for almost eight years and incorporates settlements involving Exelon, the Department of the Interior and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The license includes conditions to enhance fish migration, protect bald eagles and other wildlife, upgrade 13 public recreation sites, address sediment issues and protect archaeological and historic sites.

Conowingo Dam is a key part of Maryland’s plan to meet renewable energy mandates, but comes with baggage that include sediment that has accumulated in the lake over the decades. Damage to Chesapeake Bay’s watershed occurs when spillways open during periods of heavy runoff.

Hydroelectric power is also a key factor in the regional grid, especially when combined with the recently built Wildcat Point natural gas powered plant east of the dam in Cecil County.

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