U.S. clean renewables bonds to fund unit overhaul at 2.9-MW Boatlock

Holyoke Gas &Electric Co. is using a $2.5 million financing package provided by the federal government’s Clean Renewable Energy Bond program to overhaul a 500-kW turbine-generator at its 2.9-MW Boatlock Station hydroelectric plant.

On-site construction work began at Boatlock Station in April with disassembly of the unit, which was installed in 1921. Although rated at 500 kW, the unit was operating at about 200 kW, HG&E Manager James Lavelle said. The overhaul is expected to be completed in June or July 2010, and will improve unit efficiency and increase capacity to 750 kW.

The overhaul includes installation of a new vertical Kaplan turbine manufactured by Czech equipment supplier Mavel a.s. that will replace a Francis turbine. Boatlock is Mavel’s first U.S. project. Other contractors and subcontractors include Waterline Industries Corp., of Seabrook, N.H., which is to remove old mechanical equipment and install new equipment. Olson Electric Development Co. Inc., Methuen, N.H., will provide the electrical control system. Hydro Consulting &Maintenance Services, Rotonda, Fla., holds a subcontract for hydraulic component work.

The overhaul is expected to cost about $3 million, about $500,000 more than originally estimated, the utility said. HG&E operates 32 turbine-generators, including three at Boatlock Station, one of six powerhouses in the 43.8-MW Holyoke hydropower project (No. 2004).

Clean Renewable Energy Bonds allow public power systems to issue tax credit bonds to finance qualified energy projects. Boatlock was among government hydro projects approved in an initial CREB allocation, according to PeoplesBank, which helped the utility obtain financing.

Bonds are offered to entities that are not eligible for tax credits: state, local, and tribal governments; public power providers; and electric cooperatives. The Internal Revenue Service invites applications for $2.4 billion in bonding authority offered in a new round of allocations under the program. Applications are due Aug. 4. (HNN 4/7/09)

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