Analysis: Fish and energy needs clash

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri utility regulators claim electric customers could be on the hook for the cost of improved trout fishing in northern Arkansas.

A federal project would change the flow of water from two Army Corps of Engineers dams that form Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes along the Arkansas-Missouri border. The intent is to improve the habitat for trout below the dams.

But the change also would reduce the capacity to produce hydropower at a plant owned by The Empire District Electric Co. on Lake Taneycomo near Branson.

The federal Southwestern Power Administration proposed in January to reimburse Empire $41 million for the lost energy-production capacity. It revised that last month to $22 million. Missouri utility regulators say that would shortchange Empire's customers in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

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