The release issued from FEMA over the weekend concerning the $50 million allocated for the Spencer Dam has been corrected and amended by the Nebraska Public Power District.
The amendment clarifies that, contrary to the FEMA release, the dam will be demolished and decommissioned as originally planned by NPPD.
"On Friday, April 30 FEMA released information indicating that a grant of $50 million was being obligated to NPPD for the Spencer Hydro which was destroyed in March 2019. The initial indication was that the funds were for rebuilding the hydro unit that operated on the Niobrara River for many years, which was not the case. NPPD was unaware that a release was being issued.
In working with FEMA since the hydro was damaged, NPPD had provided FEMA with costs to rebuild the hydro unit which was part of the FEMA process, but at the same time NPPD let FEMA know that the plan was to demolish and decommission the unit. The initial release generally came across that the funds would go towards rebuilding the hydro. At the time of the destruction of the hydro, an agreement was already in place to sell the hydro itself to a group of local NRDs. With the hydro destroyed the agreement is no longer in place.
The plan is that now that federal funds are obligated, NPPD will begin putting together the costs and plans for the demolition and decommissioning of the hydro and will work with associated regulatory agencies on the approval process," said Mark Becker NPPD representative.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated more than $50 million to the State of Nebraska for the Spencer hydroelectric plant and dam as a direct result of major disaster declaration FEMA-DR-4420-NE.
During the incident period of 3/9/2019 through 7/14/2019, a severe winter storm, straight line winds and flooding caused damages to the Spencer hydroelectric plant and dam. Heavy rain on frozen ground followed by a blizzard created a record runoff breaking up ice on the Niobrara River. Large chunks of ice floating in the flood waters overtopped the embankment and spillway structure breaching the embankment in two locations causing catastrophic damages to the Spencer hydroelectric plant and dam.
Funding of approximately $50 million (75 percent federal share of total project cost) was obligated to assist the Nebraska Public Power District in either its repairs to the Spencer Hydroelectric Facility and Dam to restore the facilities back to pre-disaster design, capacity and function or towards an improved or alternate project.
The Public Assistance Program provides grants to state and local governments and certain non-profit entities to assist them with the response to and recovery from disasters. Specifically, the program provides assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent restoration of infrastructure.