FERC issues relicense to upgrade 49.8-MW School Street

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a 40-year relicense Feb. 15 to Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P. for the upgrade and operation of the 49.8-MW School Street project on the Mohawk River in upstate New York.

The School Street order (No. 2539) allows installation of 11 MW of increased capacity at the 38.8-MW plant through the addition of a �fish friendly� advanced hydropower turbine.

It also calls for new fish passage and aesthetic flows to protect the scenic quality of Cohoes Falls. Consistent with a settlement agreement with stakeholders, the new license includes protection of fishery resources and measures for recreation and cultural resources.

The relicense provides Erie Boulevard, a unit of Brookfield Power, the opportunity to install and operate an advanced turbine-generator in a new powerhouse or in a powerhouse addition built within five years. The order authorizes construction to begin within two years.

The School Street project figures in a request by the Electric Power Research Institute for $500,000 from the hydro industry to help complete development, deployment, and testing of an advanced turbine-generator. (HNN 11/16/06) EPRI proposes that a unit designed by Alden Research Laboratory and Concepts NREC be deployed and tested at School Street.

FERC noted Alden and Concepts NREC conducted an eight-year study that developed a new helical-type turbine design. It said the new, �next generation� advanced turbine-generator -� School Street’s sixth unit — should provide considerable improvements to fish passage over a previously proposed Kaplan unit.

If fish passage through the new unit meets specific criteria, Erie Boulevard would operate the unit as a primary means of fish passage.

Order shuns competing Cohoes Falls proposal

In the 66-page relicense order, FERC said it was not persuaded by arguments made by Green Island Power Authority and others that would have allowed development of a competing proposal for Cohoes Falls in lieu of relicensing the School Street project.

�These are not viable options in the context of this relicensing proceeding,� FERC said. �They are nothing more than a renewed attempt to promote the development of the Cohoes Falls proposal in lieu of the School Street project.�

FERC dismissed GIPA’s preliminary permit application for a 100-MW project at Cohoes Falls in January 2005. In a plan that won the endorsement of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, both D-N.Y., and Reps. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., and John Sweeney, R-N.Y., GIPA had proposed improvements that included restoration of flows to Cohoes Falls.

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