Officials at South Carolina's state-owned utility say a federal request to create fish passageways to spawning grounds above two of its hydroelectric dams is flawed, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The Post and Courier of Charleston said Santee Cooper officials estimated that creating special passageways for the endangered shortnose sturgeon would cost the utility more than $1 billion by reducing the amount of water available to generate power.
"If we have to do it, it will cost $1.27 billion over the next 50 years," Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said. "That's not in anybody's best interest."
Santee Cooper's cost estimates was included in its official response filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing Santee Cooper's application to relicense the dams it operates at Lakes Marion and Moultrie.
The National Marine Fisheries Service says sturgeon face extinction and that fishlifts or specially crafted channels will allow them to swim unobstructed between the Cooper and Santee rivers and the manmade lakes.