Permit program supports the lakes we love

Justin Averette

Alabama Power strives to protect and enhance the scenic, recreational, environmental and cultural values of the reservoirs it manages for the benefit of all lake users and residents.

One of the most important ways to accomplish these goals is through the shoreline permitting process.

For example, lakeshore use permits provide residents access to the water through structures like docks and boathouses.

Permits can be used to help residents protect their lakeshore property from erosion by obtaining authorization to install bank stabilization along the shoreline.

The permitting program also helps protect the shoreline and the environment while ensuring recreational opportunities for all lake users.  

The last time Alabama Power adjusted its permit structure was 2005 – nearly 15 years ago. Much has changed over that time, and after a thorough review, the company is updating the process and related fees. The updates will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.  

“The permitting process is one of the most important tools we have to ensure that public safety is a top priority through permitting guidelines that help us maintain water storage capacity, protect the scenic, environmental and cultural qualities of our lakes and enhance quality of life for all lake users and residents,” said Thomas St. John, Alabama Power Shoreline Management manager.

Permits have been required for construction along Alabama Power’s 3,500 miles of lake shoreline since 1992. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates Alabama Power lakes and hydro projects, allows utilities to establish fees to help cover the costs of administering a permit program.

“The company hasn’t had any fee adjustments in nearly 15 years,” St. John said. “Even with the changes, our fees will be in line or less than what other utilities with hydro reservoirs charge for similar services.”

For each permit, Shoreline Management team members make as many as two to three site visits. This close and careful review ensures each permitted project meets lake- and river-specific guidelines.

“Shoreline Management team members are dedicated to serving our lake communities,” St. John said. “We will meet with our customers and will help walk them through the process, making sure they understand the big picture: protecting the lakes we all love.”

Those considering any work along the shoreline of Alabama Power’s lakes are encouraged to contact their local Alabama Power Shoreline Management Office and apply for a permit before the new fee structure goes into effect at the beginning of next year. The new fee structure applies to both residences and commercial enterprises.

To learn more about the updated permit structure, please visit apcshorelines.com/permits.

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