5.8 Georgia Power Company, Savannah River Basin, Georgia and South Carolina - FERC Project # 2354 Et Al
Project Description: Georgia Power Company operates six hydropower developments on three rivers located within the Savannah River basin. Dam 5 at the North Georgia Hydropower project forms the Tugalo Lake on the Tugalo River, which runs the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The Chattooga River is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, and the Tallulah River flows through the Tallulah Gorge is highly treasured for its recreational and scenic values. The projects have a combined generating capacity of 168 MW.
Magnitude of Lands Protection: Georgia Power leases approximately 3,000 acres of project lands in the Tallulah Gorge to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) through a fifty-year conservation easement for $1.00 per year. GDNR will establish a state park in the gorge. Georgia Power is also required to donate $300,000 to GDNR for trail maintenance and other operational costs. In addition, Georgia Power manages shorelines within 75 feet of the reservoirs for residential construction and erosion control.
Mechanism of Protection: FERC approved the use of project lands for a conservation easement through an order issued in 1995. The order not only established the Tallulah Gorge State Park but also prohibits logging or development within the gorge. The conservation easement was incorporated into the FERC license in 1996 by reference to the Final Environmental Impact Statement. FERC and Georgia Power recently entered into a Programmatic Agreement to determine methods for managing residential construction within the project boundary and 75 feet from the edge of the reservoirs.
FERC Involvement: See above.
Current Status: The conservation easement is in effect and GDNR has constructed and operates the Tallulah Gorge State park. Georgia Power was involved in negotiations with the State of South Carolina for a conservation easement on approximately 1,200 acres along the Tugalo River. Negotiations were unsuccessful because Georgia Power offered a 50-year conservation easement while South Carolina requested an easement in perpetuity.