Natel Energy to develop three non-powered dam sites on Red River in Louisiana

Natel RHT

Natel Energy, a supplier of sustainable hydropower solutions, will develop, finance and construct three non-powered dam sites along Louisiana’s Red River in partnership with Nelson Energy, a firm that has developed and licensed over $250 million of hydroelectric projects in the U.S.

With Nelson Energy as an advisory partner, Natel will install between 60 and 90 of its Restoration Hydro Turbines (RHT) to retrofit three existing dams and add 80 MW of renewable capacity to the grid.

“Nelson Energy’s hydroelectric development goals have been to identify projects, establish their feasibility, obtain a FERC license and to then find a partner to carry the project forward through design, financing, construction and operation,” said Doug Spaulding, president of Nelson Energy. “Nelson has teamed with Natel based on their demonstrated experience and staffing to move projects from a licensed concept to an operational project.”

Natel will install up to 30 of its fish-safe RHTs at each of the Red River Lock & Dam sites: 3, 4 and 5. Two of the projects will connect to points within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Transmission System and one project with the Southwest Power Pool. The projects have been licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and are expected to be built in 2024 and 2025.

“The Red River Projects mark a major addition to our Energy Platform development portfolio — an effort that Natel is undertaking to scale deployment of our Restoration Hydro Turbines and digital forecasting tools to advance the potential of modern, sustainable hydropower, enabling a climate-resilient future.” said Gia Schneider, chief executive officer and co-founder of Natel. “We are excited to partner with Nelson Energy — one of the leading firms in advancing hydropower projects from concept to licensing.”

Nelson Energy laid a foundation by obtaining the FERC licenses and completing initial project diligence for Natel to expedite retrofitting the dams on a timeline that can bring clean, renewable energy to the grid more quickly, in an expansion of Natel’s Energy Platform development portfolio. The Red River project builds off the success of Natel’s 1-MW Monroe Hydro Project in Madras, Ore., which demonstrates how Natel’s sustainable RHT technology can be integrated with existing water infrastructure. The RHT’s direct-drive, low-head, modular design is an ideal fit for the Red River Project’s three existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock and dam sites, with drop heights between 25 feet and 31 feet.

Natel Energy is a California-based company with a mission to mitigate climate change and build climate resilience by providing hardware and software solutions that enable a 100% renewable grid via a hydropower backbone.

Nelson Energy is a Minneapolis-based hydroelectric developer that has focused on the retrofitting of existing dams to incorporate hydroelectric power. Over the past 20 years, Nelson has developed and licensed 138 MW of renewable energy at five existing dams owned by the Corps. After obtaining a FERC license for the projects, Nelson joined with partners to bring the projects through design, construction and operation.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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