Feds Say Duke Dam Releases In June Were Proper, But Order A Review

Sep 12, 2019

Federal regulators say Duke Energy did not violate its license when it released water from Catawba River dams in June that caused flooding downstream. But in a letter this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked Duke to review its high-water management and notification procedures and recommend improvements. 

Heavy rains during the June storms raised Duke reservoir levels. Water releases from the dams led to flooding that inundated riverfront homes south of Mountain Island Lake in Mecklenburg County. Some residents were forced to evacuate to emergency shelters. 

Some residents complained about the releases and about the "timeliness and effectiveness of public notices and warnings," the commission said in the letter. 

A Duke hydroelectric official, Michael Brissie, said at the time that heavy rains made it necessary to open flood gates to "protect the integrity of the dams."

The commission's letter orders Duke to seek comments on: 

  • The effectiveness of high-flow procedures and potential improvements for future storms.
  • The timeliness and effectiveness of notifications and warnings, including comments from affected residents and evacuees. 
  • Potential improvements to Duke's incident management process. 

Duke has until Oct. 10 to submit a plan and schedule for the review.  

In a statement, Duke Energy that the letter found no wrongdoing. It says it will complete the review and continue to work closely with local emergency management agencies.

FERC letter to Duke Energy