The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must approve the settlement, which has been signed by the company and by the U.S. Department of Interior, representing Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Parks Service; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. AmerenUE expects the FERC to rule on the agreement and on the dam and plant relicensing application by year-end 2005.
"We believe this settlement agreement offers provisions that protect habitat and recreation, while allowing the plant to continue to operate efficiently and reliably," says Thomas R. Voss, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ameren Corporation, the parent company of AmerenUE.
Completed in 1931, the 226-megawatt Osage Plant and Bagnell Dam created Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks--with the first federal license issued in 1926 and renewed in 1981.
AmerenUE filed the formal relicensing application with the FERC on Feb. 24, 2004, requesting a new operating license for the dam and plant. The filing came after four years of discussion and analysis and included a 10-volume application, covering environmental, recreational, cultural and historic issues. The existing license will expire Feb. 28, 2006
The key provisions of the settlement agreement are:
• Relicensing for a low-cost, highly efficient, renewable energy facility for another 40 years, providing operational certainty and reliable energy supplies on demand.
-- more -- Add One • Increasing plant minimum flows seasonally to enhance lower Osage River fisheries habitat---by increasing these flows, downstream habitat and recreational opportunities can be protected.
• Retaining plant operating flexibility, so that the plant will be able to ramp-up power quickly and stop generating as quickly\-to provide peak power needs, while enhancing the reliability of the electrical system.
• Adding two turbines that will increase plant capacity by a total of 15 megawatts and allow the plant to generate more power using less water.
• Provide a barrier net upstream of the plant intake structures. This 100-foot-deep, 1,100-foot-long structure would isolate fish from the plant water intakes so fish could not pass into these structures. Testing and design of these fish protection structures will begin in 2005, with the advice of leading experts in the field.
• Provide $175,000 annually to support Fish and Wildlife Service projects that protect and enhance the Lower Osage River\-these projects include the restoration of mussel habitat and island erosion repair and protection projects.
• Provide $134,000 annually to support the Missouri Department of Conservation's stocking of fish in the area.
• Provide $2.1 million to be paid in annual installments of $350,000 for the first six years of the license term to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for general shoreline protection and to support erosion management projects around state parks---including the Grand Glaize and Pa He Tsi parks.
In addition, AmerenUE is paying state agencies $1.3 million to resolve outstanding litigation related to the 2002 incident of fish mortality at the dam and plant. Fish traveled through the plant's turbine generators and became trapped on plant intake racks on the upstream side of the dam. In the months and years immediately after the death of these fish, AmerenUE worked with consultants and with state and federal resource agencies to evaluate and implement fish protection measures. Before and after the incident, the company also spent several million dollars to improve aquatic habitat, to support a fish hatchery and to stock fish at the Lake of the Ozarks.
"Clearly, today's announcement is a major milestone in a relicensing process that began more than five years ago," Voss says.
-- more - Add Two AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation. Ameren companies serve 2.3 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers over a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
Forward-Looking Statements Statements made in this release, which are not based on historical facts, are "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such "forward-looking" statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the company is providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in past and subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such "forward-looking" statements: changes in environmental laws or regulations or other factors that could adversely impact assumptions in connection with this settlement agreement; regulatory actions, including changes in regulatory policies, legal and administrative proceedings, and generating plant performance. # # #