Environmental, Europe, North America, Regulation and Policy

Low-impact group certifies New England hydro exceeding 320 MW

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute’s governing board has certified as “low-impact” hydropower four hydro plants totaling more than 320 MW that are operated by TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc. in two New England hydroelectric projects.

LIHI completed certification June 25, 2009, of TransCanada’s 32.4-MW Vernon project (No. 1904) (HydroWorld 12/30/08) and its three-plant, 291.36-MW Fifteen Mile Falls project (No. 2077). (HydroWorld 1/2/09) Both are on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont.

TransCanada completed a $50 million rehabilitation of Vernon in 2008, replacing four of 10 turbines and increasing generation. (HydroWorld 8/12/08) Fifteen Mile Falls features three hydro plants, including the 140.4-MW Comerford plant in New Hampshire that has applied to the government for renewable energy production tax credits based on efficiency improvements. (HydroWorld 7/10/09) Other plants are the 140.4-MW Moore and 10.56-MW McIndoes.

The LIHI governing board found the projects meet the organization’s “low-impact” criteria for river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed health, endangered species protection, cultural resources, recreation, and whether the dam has been recommended for removal.

The voluntary LIHI program is designed to help consumers identify environmentally sound, low-impact hydropower facilities for emerging “green” energy markets. Certification is valid for five years, during which the owner can market the project as a certified low-impact hydro facility. Certification also means power generated by the project could be eligible for other green power programs.

More New England projects seek certification

LIHI reported receiving certification applications for several other New England projects, including Ashuelot Hydro Inc.’s 840-kW Lower Robertson (No. 8235) and 870-kW Ashuelot (No. 7791) projects on the Ashuelot River, and Dodge Falls Associates LP’s 5-MW Dodge Falls project (No. 8011) on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont.

A recertification application was filed by Winooski One Partnership to renew low-impact certification for the 7.4-MW Winooski One project, also called Chace Mill (No. 2756), on the Winooski River in Vermont. The only LIHI-certified project in Kansas, 2.5-MW Bowersock on the Kansas River, also applied for recertification.

Comments posted on revised certification criteria

The institute also announced that public comments on its proposed revised certification criteria are available on the LIHI Internet site, www.lowimpacthydro.org.

LIHI issued proposed new criteria in May, saying the revisions would add criteria for general eligibility, settlement agreements, energy efficiency, and reservoir levels. (HydroWorld 5/14/09) Other changes would expand criteria for recreation and shift the emphasis on fish passage and fish protection to comprehensively address migratory fish.

A task force is to review and evaluate comments and make recommendations to the board for release of a final draft to all commenters and to the LIHI website. The board anticipates revisions will be in place by Sept. 1.