CHEAT LAKE, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Monday evening, more than 100 people gathered at the Cranberry Hotel in Cheat Lake for a public meeting to address concerns about the relicensing of a nearby dam.
Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, the owner of the Lake Lynn Power Station, is currently renewing its operating license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As previously reported by 12 News, part of Eagle Creek’s renewal application is the removal of about 300 acres from the project boundary. Eagle Creek described it as an “administrative change,” and said that it is looking to simplify project boundaries by removing these non-contiguous plots of land.
However, this would take the land outside of FERC’s jurisdiction, leaving many residents and lake-goers worried about what would happen to this land if it was removed from the project.
Dr. James McGraw, a property owner and conservation biologist, expressed his concern at the meeting and said that without FERC oversight, the excluded land could be sold to another party in the future.
I’m concerned that even if we were to trust the current owners of the dam, we couldn’t trust future owners of the dam not to divest themselves of that property. There’s nothing preventing them from doing so and there’s no one to hold their feet to the fire to keep it for public good in the future.James McGraw, Cheat Lake property owner
Teddy Watson, a resident of Fairchance, PA, voiced her concern that the people who currently enjoy Cheat Lake would be at risk of losing access to the lake in the future.
Both of my daughters here learned to swim in that lake. I learned to swim in that lake. I feel like that lake belongs to me and my girls the way it belonged to my dad and my grandfather, just like it belongs to each one of you that are out there on that lake every day, every weekend, whenever.Teddy Watson, Fairchance P.A. Resident
Jody Smet, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Compliance Officer for Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, clarified in an interview with 12 News that several areas of concern would remain within project boundaries under the new license. These areas include:
- Cheat Lake Park
- Cheat Haven and Tower Run Nature Viewing Areas
- Sunset Marina boat launch
- Tailwater fishing access
Citizens raised other concerns like a growing hydrilla problem and a lack of upkeep on Cheat Lake’s beaches and park amenities. Several citizens put forward the idea of purchasing the land in question from Eagle Creek and establishing a land trust, while others said the land should be given back to the public as a donation and show of goodwill.
The current license for the Lake Lynn Project was issued on Dec. 27, 1994, and will expire on Nov. 30, 2024.