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FERC denies license extension for New Hampshire’s 200-kW Sugar River II Hydroelectric Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied Sugar River Hydro II LLC’s request for a license extension for its 200-kW Sugar River II Hydroelectric Project.

This operating license for this project, on the Sugar River in Sullivan County, New Hampshire, was issued May 9, 1991, and expires April 30, 2021. It was issued to William B. Ruger Jr., and in November 2016 Ruger filed an application to transfer the license to Sugar River Hydro. This was approved in January 2017. Sugar River Hydro filed an application in July 2019 seeking to extend the license expiration date to Feb. 28, 2031.

The operating license authorized construction of a new dam and fish passage facilities. It was amended Jun 27, 1996, to increase the size of the dam and reservoir and authorize construction of a new penstock section.

FERC says Sugar River Hydro has refurbished the project and made repairs to project works that were damaged by ice and flooding in January 2018. However, in April 2019 the company filed a letter stating it will not file an application for a subsequent license due to its inability to pay for the costs associated with project improvement and relicensing after paying to repair the damaged project works.

In May 2019, FERC staff issued a notice soliciting applications from potential applicants others than the existing licensee. And in August 2019, New Hampshire Renewable Resources LLC filed a notice of intent to file an application for a subsequent license.

The Sugar River project is 15 river miles upstream from another hydro project licensed to the same company and 18 river miles upstream from a project licensed to Sweetwater Hydroelectric LLC. Sugar River Hydro requested the license term extension to align the Sugar River II license expiration date with the expiration date of these other two projects. The company said this would reduce state and federal regulatory burdens, increase administrative efficiency, lower costs for stakeholders, and allow the recoupment of costs associated with the recent refurbishment of project works. Sugar River Hydro also said the project license term should have been extended in 1996 when FERC amended the license.

However, FERC said that the fact that the project is no longer being considered for relicensing upon its license expiration, along with other factors, gives very little advantage to contemporaneous processing of the Sugar River II project with the other two anticipated future relicense applications.