Ishpeming, MI – Construction at the Upper Peninsula Power Company's (UPPCO) Victoria Hydroelectric Project is substantially complete and the reservoir refilled. UPPCO is waiting for final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before lowering the reservoir in preparation for spring runoff.
The Victoria Dam reservoir drawdown is expected to begin in mid-February, which is later than normal due to the construction activities in 2013.
Victoria Hydroelectric Project is located on the Ontonagon River in Ontonagon County.
"It's an annual operating practice. We lower the reservoir to make room for the anticipated melting snow and spring precipitation, but this year the drawdown was delayed due to the 2013 construction," according to Jim Melchiori, Supervisor of Regional Generation at UPPCO.
Melchiori also warns that lowering the reservoir water may cause "bridging," a condition in which the changing water level could create gaps or spaces under the ice. Melchiori also said that increased water flows in the rivers may deteriorate the ice from the underside and result in unstable and unsafe ice conditions. These areas may not be that easy to identify, so Melchiori urges the public to be extremely careful around all reservoirs, lakes and associated rivers this time of year.
UPPCO expects the reservoirs to begin returning to their normal water levels in April, depending on the rate of snow melt and spring precipitation conditions.
UPPCO's service area extends into 10 of the 15 counties in Michigan's Upper Peninsula or about 4,460 square miles and the utility provides electric service to nearly 52,000 customers.