Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s project is the first Nebraska Project to earn LIHI certification

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (Central) is a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska, formed in 1933. Central’s original purpose was to provide irrigation water to a region where rainfall was inadequate for consistent agricultural production. The Kingsley Dam Project, FERC Docket P-1417 (Project), operated by the Central, was issued a 40-year license on July 29, 1998. The license expires on July 29, 2038. The Kingsley Dam Project consists of dams, reservoirs, canals, and power plants located on the North Platte and Platte Rivers in Garden, Keith, Lincoln, Dawson, and Gosper Counties in south-central Nebraska.

Project Name Kingsley Dam
LIHI Certificate Number 37
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
May 22, 2013 to
May 22, 2018, extended to April 30, 2019
Owner Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District
State Nebraska
Location Located on the North Platte and Platte Rivers in south central Nebraska.
Installed Capacity 115.7 MW
Average Annual Generation 373,373 MWh

10-year average

Facility Type store/release, diversion, conduit
FERC No. 1417

The 3-mile long Kingsley Dam, on the North Platte River, impounds Lake McConaughy, which has a surface area of 30,500 acres and a maximum allowable storage capacity of 1,790,000 acre-feet. Kingsley Hydro, a 50-MW single-turbine hydroelectric plant, abuts Kingsley Dam and discharges to Lake Ogallala. The Central (or Tri-County) Diversion Dam, located 50 miles downstream of Kingsley Dam at the confluence of the North Platte and South Platte rivers, diverts Platte River flow into the 75-mile-long Supply Canal, which incorporates 27 dams and impoundments and three hydroelectric power plants, Jeffrey, Johnson No. 1, and Johnson No. 2, with capacities of 21.6 Mw, 21.6 MW, and 22.5 MW respectively.

A major addition to Central’s project occurred in 1984 when the Kingsley Hydroplant was constructed at the outlet of Lake McConaughy to make use of the existing water releases and drop of up to 143 feet that occurs between Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala.

Central began the process of relicensing its project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1984, which concluded with the issuance of a 40-year license in July of 1998. During the relicensing process, the United States Department of Interior and the states of Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming entered into a Cooperative Agreement to develop a long-term recovery program for threatened and endangered species habitat along the central Platte River. In May 1998, the parties to the license negotiations – including Central, the Nebraska Public Power District, the states of Colorado and Wyoming, the Nebraska Water Users, Inc., the Whooping Crane Habitat Maintenance Trust, National Audubon Society and the Department of the Interior – entered into a settlement agreement on wildlife and habitat issues and proposed operating conditions for the hydroelectric project. Terms of the settlement were used by FERC staff to complete the final Environmental Impact Statement and licensing order.

A unique condition within the settlement is the Environmental Account, a block of water set aside in Lake McConaughy dedicated to be used for fish and wildlife purposes. This Environmental Account is funded by 10% of the storable inflows to Lake McConaughy with a cap of 200,000 acre-feet. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) employs a manager who controls the release of this water for the protection of endangered and threatened species on the Platte River downstream.

During 2000 to 2003, Central repowered the Jeffrey, J1, and J2 hydro plants to improve the efficiency of the units and to maintain the high reliability expected of the hydroplants. These units now utilize greaseless bushings throughout the wicket gates and turbine pit to ensure that contaminants are not added to the water.

The J-2 Hydrocycling Agreement went into effect in August 2007 to address various USFWS concerns regarding the impact that cycling may be having on listed species and their habitat. This was the latest settlement Central has executed to address concerns about endangered and threatened species.

Certification History

February 8, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project for a  new 8-year term with the following condition:

Condition 1:  Since the final actions pertaining to the erosion concerns at Lake McConaughy are not yet completed, the facility Owner shall provide to LIHI by August 31, 2019 a summary of agency and public consultation related to proposed project boundary changes at Lake McConaughy, the outcome of that consultation, and a copy of the annual boundary review report provided to FERC (due by July 31). The facility Owner shall also submit FERC’s final decision regarding the relevant project boundary changes to LIHI within 30 days of issuance.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with “Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website.  The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on March 10, 2019.  The full application and reviewers report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the new certification term for the Project will be May 22, 2018, 2018 through May 21, 2026.

October 23, 2018: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project. The Project is located on the North Platte and Platte Rivers in south-central Nebraska.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2018 application materials below.

Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Kingsley Dam Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on December 22, 2018 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

October 21, 2013: The Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project has been certified for a second five year term of low impact certification, effective May 22, 2013 and expiring May 22, 2018.

May 22, 2013: Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District has submitted an application for recertification of the Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project.

December 19, 2008: The Kingsley Dam Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective May 22, 2008 and expiring May 22, 2013.

May 22, 2008: Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District has submitted an application for certification of the Kingsley Dam Hydroelectric Project. A 60 day comment period for public comments on the application for certification will remain open until July 22, 2008.


2018 Recertification

2013 Recertification

2008 Certification