What will FERC do if Boyce Hydro Power LLC cannot afford to commit to the PMF spillway alteration construction schedule? FERC asserts that it cannot allow an “unsafe” dam to continue to operate, and it doesn’t give the licensee very many options. FERC says, “comply, or else.” The “or else” is license surrender. Absent the ability to pay for the construction (and BHP will not begin the construction if it cannot afford to finish it, contrary to rumors), the only option is to surrender the license.
A license surrender means the dam’s ability to produce power would be revoked and potentially the spillways would be breached to allow the lake to be drained and the rivers to return to their natural condition. This could be a time-consuming process, and in the meantime FERC could require BHP to lower Wixom Lake eight or more feet to provide a “buffer” for flood control until it is completed. If this comes to pass, residents will have recreation curtailed for a lot longer than if the construction were funded, and their property values will certainly be reduced.