Clean Renewable Energy Bonds fund rehab of 1.55-MW Wyoming hydro

Lower Valley Energy Inc. is using federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to revive the 1.55-MW Swift Creek hydro project, idled 40 years ago.

The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. allocated $5.73 million in bonding authority for the project earlier this year under the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program. (HNN 2/12/08) The program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as an incentive to entities that are exempt from taxation and, therefore, cannot use production tax credits offered to other owners of renewable energy projects. (HNN 6/10/08)

An avalanche damaged Swift Creek (No. 1651) in 1968. A pipe failed a year later, destroying electrical equipment in a lower powerhouse, one of two powerhouses. While there no longer are generating units in either powerhouse, the project’s authorized capacity is 1.55 MW.

In May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a request by the city of Afton, Wyo., to transfer the project to Lower Valley Energy, an electric cooperative.

In the transfer order, FERC required the licensee to file a schedule, plans, and specifications for resuming project operations, citing long-term disrepair of the project. The schedule and plan to return the project to safe operating condition must be filed by July 15. The current deadline for reconstruction is Dec. 19, 2009.

A monthly report prepared for FERC by developer Symbiotics LLC states progress so far is limited to manufacturing and fabrication of major project components. It stated penstocks were near completion and soon would be coated. Turbine and generator equipment also were in final design.

The report identified suppliers including Northwest Pipe, penstocks; Canyon Hydro, turbine and generator; BAT Electric, controls and switchgear; and Tin Cup Enterprises LLC, an access bridge.

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