top of dam resized

Top of dam

The project is located on the Gauley River in Nicholas and Fayette Counties, West Virginia, between Summersville dam and the upper boundary of the Gauley River National Recreation Area (GRNRA). The terrain is rugged and characterized by sharp ridges and narrow v-shaped valleys. The Gauley River does not have a floodplain in the project area.

Project Name Summersville
LIHI Certificate Number 17
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
November 10, 2014
November 10, 2019
Owner Gauley River Power Partners, LP
State West Virginia
Location Located on the Gauley River in Nicholas and Fayette Counties, West Virginia, between Summersville Dam and the upper boundary of the Gauley River National Recreation Area.
Installed Capacity 80 MW
Average Annual Generation 206,000,000 KWh
Facility Type Store and release
FERC No. 10813

As operated by the ACOE, the dam regulates water levels in the reservoir and downstream flows. Changes in discharge rate are scheduled not to exceed 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) per hour or cause changes in water surface elevations downstream of the dam greater than 1 foot per hour. A minimum flow of 100 cfs is provided at all times. The ACOE is required to provide 20 days of whitewater rafting flows each year beginning the first weekend after Labor Day.

Summersville Lake has a surface area that varies seasonally between 928 acres and 4,280 acres. The minimum (winter) pool of 4,280 acres has a surface elevation of 1,710 feet. The seasonal (summer) pool of 2,790 acres has a surface elevation of 1,652 feet. In the fall, the ACOE lowers the reservoir level in anticipation of heavy snows and rain in the winter and spring months. Recreational boaters raft and kayak down the river, especially during the fall draw down period.

The project is located on land owned by the ACOE at their Summersville dam. Project structures include a powerhouse with two hydroelectric turbine-generators, a substation, and a transmission line. The powerhouse and substation are located on the right riverbank, downstream of the dam. The transmission line extends across the downstream side of the dam. The project’s powerhouse connects to the ACOE’s discharge tunnel via a penstock.

The project reservoir is Summersville Lake, which the ACOE manages for flood control, low-flow augmentation, and recreation. The dam was authorized by Congress in 1938. It was originally constructed in conjunction with two other dams to control flood waters in the Kanawha basin, a 12,300-square-mile area located in three states. The dams operated as a system, control flows into the Ohio River. Summersville dam was built in 1966 at a cost of $48 million (1966 dollars). It is an earthen structure 393 feet high and 2,280 feet long.

The ACOE operates the dam and controls the rate of water released through the dam. The hydroelectric project is, in effect, run-of-the-river – generating power only with the flows that the ACOE releases. Hydroelectric project operations are coordinated with the ACOE on a day-to-day and hour-by-hour basis. When water release rates are sufficient, the project generates electricity.

Water is drawn out of the reservoir through an intake structure that leads to a 29-foot-diameter outlet tunnel, which splits into four steel tunnels each leading to a butterfly valve and a Howell-Bunger valve (HBV). The HBVs aerate the water in its controlled release to the Gauley River. Three of the HBVs are located in the ACOE’s valvehouse sited directly downstream of the reservoir and the dam. A 17-foot diameter steel penstock connects the #3 butterfly value to the #3 HBV relocated to the project powerhouse approximately 150 feet downstream of the ACOE’s valvehouse. The powerhouse also contains two Francis hydraulic turbines with a total installed capacity of 80 MW. Water is discharged into a tailrace. A step-up transformer is located adjacent to the powerhouse and the 69 kV transmission line connects the project to the APCo facilities via an interconnection point approximately ten miles away.

Flow is discharged through the project as directed by the ACOE per License Articles 309 and 402 and the Operating Plan. The project is reviewed annually and, over time, has been refined to operate at water flows between 600 and 4,300 cfs. Flows within this range are released through one or both of the turbines. Flows below 600 cfs are controlled by the ACOE and released through one or more of the HBVs, as are flows in excess of the (up to) 4,300 cfs released through the turbines. The operating mechanisms for the turbines are controlled automatically, with operations monitored remotely. The controls ensure that flows in the river are automatically maintained in the event of an unscheduled turbine shut down. The ACOE’s operational control of the dam and the flows released from the dam are not altered or adversely impacted by implementation and operation of the hydroelectric project.

As operated by the ACOE, the dam regulates water levels in the reservoir and downstream flows. Changes in discharge rate are scheduled not to exceed 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) per hour or cause changes in water surface elevations downstream of the dam greater than 1 foot per hour. A minimum flow of 100 cfs is provided at all times. The ACOE is required to provide 20 days of whitewater rafting flows each year beginning the first weekend after Labor Day.

Summersville Lake has a surface area that varies seasonally between 928 acres and 4,280 acres. The minimum (winter) pool of 4,280 acres has a surface elevation of 1,710 feet. The seasonal (summer) pool of 2,790 acres has a surface elevation of 1,652 feet. In the fall, the ACOE lowers the reservoir level in anticipation of heavy snows and rain in the winter and spring months. Recreational boaters raft and kayak down the river, especially during the fall draw down period.

Certification History

April 17, 2015: Executive Director, Mike Sale, using authority delegated by the LIHI Governing Board, has determined that the Summersville Project continues to meet the Low Impact Certification Critieria.  The decision to certify the Summersville Hydroelectric Project is for a 5-year term, effective November 10, 2014 and expiring November 10, 2019, with the following conditions:

Condition 1. The facility owner shall provide LIHI with an electronic copy of the Revised Form 80 on recreational uses of the river no later than July 1, 2015.

Condition 2.  The facility owner shall provide a status update on DO deficiencies and associated FERC filings along with their annual compliance letter to LIHI. This status update will contain copies of any pertinent correspondence and documents, including explanations and remediation actions related to any DO deficiencies that have happened in the past year.

The 2015 reviewer’s report can be found in the FILES section below.

January 5, 2015:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a complete and timely application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Summersville project on September 18, 2014.  Please see the application files below.

November 10, 2014:  The Certification term for the Summersville project has been extended through March 31, 2015 to allow for internal administrative delays in processing the Project application for an additional term.  The application will be posted shortly.

March 4, 2010: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute’s Governing Board has determined that the Summersville Project continues to meet the certification criteria. This recertification is effective November 10, 2009 and will expire November 10, 2014.

November 25, 2009: Gauley River Power Partners, Inc. has submitted an application for recertification of the Summersville Hydroelectric Project.  Comments must be received by January 25, 2010.

April 28, 2005: The Summersville Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective November 10, 2004 and expiring November 10, 2009.

November 10, 2004: Gauley River Partners, Inc. has submitted an application for certification of the Summersville Hydroelectric Project, located on the Gauley River in Nicholas County, West Virginia.


Files: