Business, Energy, Monongalia County

Letter to FERC: TDP real estate ad sparks Cheat Lake resident’s concern about removing Cheat Lake land from federal protection

MORGANTOWN — A Sunday real estate ad in The Dominion Post sparked a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, reflecting ongoing concerns about Lake Lynn Generation/Eagle Creek Renewable Energy’s proposal to remove 307.1 acres surrounding Cheat Lake from federal protection.

The proposal is included in Lake Lynn Generation’s application to renew its Lake Lynn Hydroelectric Project license, which is under review by FERC. It has generated concerns that the acreage will be sold to developers, subjecting the area to potential harm.

The ad headline reads: 5-acre lakefront point on Cheat Lake. Under an aerial view of the wooded property is a brief description: easy lake access; dock with permit; waterfalls; virgin timber.

A QR code connects to a fuller description, adding: cul-de-sac lot with private entrance in the Falling Water Community. The online ad includes more pictures and a video walk-through.

The asking price is $1.2 million.

The letter to FERC was posted Monday in the case docket and is from Cheat Lake resident Alan Simms, who has commented to FERC before on the boundary issue.

“I noted that the removal of hundreds of acres from the protection of the federal government could be disastrous for the quality of life on and in the lake,” Simms wrote. “The applicant has never disclosed its plans for the subject acreage, even when asked at the public meeting if it intended to sell the land if freed from its boundaries. This risk has recently been more plain.”

Simms cites the newspaper ad and says, “The commission will readily observe just how valuable lakefront land is here, and just how damaging its exclusion from the applicant’s boundaries, freeing it up for sale, would be.”

He closes, “Further development aside, the harvesting of virgin timber from lakefront land would be a disaster for water quality. The pending relicensing application must not be granted unless the current boundaries are maintained under the commission’s watchful eye.”

FERC held a public hearing in Morgantown on the case last September and the company said at that time it will make no changes to operations or facilities. Lake Lynn said it proposes to adjust the project boundary to include only lands necessary for operation and maintenance of the power station. They will not sell any land.

The eight non-contiguous areas in the boundary proposal will allow them to adjust the project boundary to follow the contour line of the high reservoir elevation, 870 feet, and bring all parts of the boundary into the highest contour line, the company said.

But the proposal has generated significant skepticism and opposition from the public and from various groups with an interest in the lake, who fear the land may in fact be sold off to developers. Simms’ new letter is the latest in a long series raising concerns about the boundary issue and the company’s maintenance of public recreation areas.

The company defended itself and explained some of its maintenance plans in a February filing submitted in response to questions from FERC, and reported on at length at the time in The Dominion Post.

In light of the various concerns, Delegate Debbie Warner, R-Monongalia, introduced a House concurrent resolution calling for a study on the potential of turning Cheat Lake into a state park. It had bipartisan co-sponsorship from her four Mon County colleagues and two Preston delegates, but died in House Rules after clearing the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.


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