Decommissioning the hydroelectric plant at Possum Kingdom Lake is progressing thanks to improvements under way on Morris Sheppard Dam.

Workers are installing a conduit, or a large pipe, within the dam structure that will allow the BRA to continue to release water supply once the penstocks to the hydroelectric turbines are removed. Currently, release options are limited to the facility low flow and spillway gates. When the new conduit is completed the Brazos River Authority will again have the ability to release water supply in an easily manageable fashion from the dam without generating electricity.

Construction of the new conduit is part of an overall project to decommission the hydro plant. Late last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepted the BRA’s application to surrender the power plant’s operating license contingent upon completion of the installation of the conduit.

The conduit had long been considered for inclusion in the decommissioning work, but the experience of last year’s exceptional drought prompted officials to step up the planned construction.

Barring any unexpected delays, the conduit is expected to be operational by the end of 2012. Construction activities will not require the lake level to be lowered. The license surrender will be effective once FERC officials accept the work as completed in accordance with the surrender order and the decommissioning plan.