FERC Imposes $15M Penalty Against Boyce Hydro for Dam Safety Violations

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently imposed a $15 million civil penalty against Boyce Hydro Power LLC for numerous dam safety violations.

The violations followed significant flooding and a dam breach in May of 2020, resulting in substantial damage to the surrounding communities, including washed-out major roads, destruction of homes, and the evacuation of more than 10,000 people.

Rich Glick, chairman of FERC, says at the open meeting Thursday, “The commission today is imposing a 15-million-dollar penalty against boyce hydro power.”

Boyce Hydro Power is said to have violated numerous dam safety regulations at three of the company’s hydroelectric projects in Michigan — the Secord, Smallwood and Sanford dams. In 2018, FERC revoked the license for the Edenville Dam.

Glick says, “Boyce failed to substantially respond to the factual allegations contained the in the show cause order,” says Glick.

The failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams last spring caused an estimated $190 million in damages.

“And that’s why today, we are opposing a $15 million penalty for the failure to comply to numerous dam safety requirements,” says Glick.

Boyce Hydro filed for bankruptcy in July of 2020.

Glick says the commission, along with the bankruptcy court, has agreed to not collect on the $15 million until after flood victims are compensated.

“That probably means we won’t be able to recover much, if anything of the $15 million penalty,” says Glick.

Nevertheless, Glick hopes Thursday’s decision sends a clear message to all licensees of hydroelectric projects under FERC’s jurisdiction.

“Licensees need to understand that the commission takes the responsibilities of the dam safety seriously and that there will be consequences if licenses requirements be ignored,” says Glick.

Dave Kepler, president of the Four Lakes Task Force, says in a statement that:

“Boyce Hydro Power is now insolvent and no longer in operation. The only recourse for moving forward and restoring the lakes is for the Boyce licenses to be terminated by FERC. A $15 million penalty is significantly less than the recovery costs to restore the environment and lakes. We believe FERC’s action to seek penalties against Boyce may be too late. In any event, it is good that FERC put its claims behind those of the victims.”