NPPD does not plan to rebuild Spencer Hydro

In March 2019, the severe flooding that impacted much of the state compromised the Spencer dam on the Niobrara River.

A recent press release from FEMA indicated that funds in the amount of $50 million would be used in the effort to rebuild the Spencer dam. In a release received Monday, Nebraska Public Power District supervisor Mark Becker stated that initial indication was not the case.

Instead, the funds from FEMA will be utilized in the demolition and decommissioning of the hydro. A revised press release from FEMA can be read below, where the term referring to an “alternate project” is the demolition and decommissioning of the Spencer hydro.

FEMA Awards $50 million to Nebraska for Spencer Dam Project

KANSAS CITY – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated more than $50 million to the 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 Strom, 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 Hydro Electric 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.