JEFFERSON CITY — Power company Ameren Missouri said Friday that it will submit a proposal early next year to resolve recent controversy over homes, boathouses and other structures built along the Lake of the Ozarks.
The central Missouri lake is formed by a dam operated by St. Louis-based Ameren, and the recent conflict prompted fears that thousands of structures could need to be removed. Ameren in 2008 filed a required shoreline management plan noting that many structures were built over time on land that appeared to belong to the utility's hydroelectric project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered in July that structures may need to be removed if they encroach onto the project's land.
Last week, the commission issued a new order that may allow many structures to remain and that directed Ameren to submit a plan by June for redrawing the territory around the lake that is necessary for the hydroelectric project.
Ameren shoreline supervisor Jeff Green said in a statement Friday that the utility would develop a draft and then allow 30 days for comments from those affected by it. The comments will be taken into account in the plan submitted to federal energy regulators. Ameren said it will release the final proposal during the first quarter of 2012.
"We understand the heightened concerns of affected property owners and others regarding this issue and are taking, what we believe to be, necessary steps to expedite submitting a proposal to FERC," Green said.
Utility officials said they were strongly considering a proposal that would lower the boundary for the hydroelectric project to an elevation of 662 feet. It said there could be further revisions for existing homes that have been built even lower than 662 feet.
The Lake of the Ozarks is a 93-mile long lake that was created in 1931. Since then, it has become a tourism destination with permanent residences and second homes built on thickly wooded shores.
Missouri's two U.S. senators and eight members of Congress have joined the fray, proposing legislation and amendments in response to the controversy.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, said Ameren's announcement made progress, though he reiterated his demand for a prompt final resolution. Earlier this week, he highlighted the situation during a floor speech in the U.S. Senate.
"January is still better than March, and as I've repeatedly said, the June deadline is simply an unacceptable amount of time for lake residents to wait," he said. "We need to do this sooner rather than later."
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, held a conference call with residents and local leaders last week and said Friday that she would remain focused on the Lake of the Ozarks.
"Folks there have been struggling with uncertainty for too long over this mess," she said.