Alaska project first to seek pilot hydrokinetic license

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports Alaska Power &Telephone Co. is the first applicant to submit a notice of intent to file for a FERC pilot license to test a hydrokinetic project.

AP&T submitted a draft pilot license application with the notice of its intent for the 100-kW Yukon River Hydrokinetic Turbine project (No. 13114) on the Yukon River in Eagle, Alaska. The site is in a remote area of east-central Alaska near the Canadian border.

AP&T filed the documents in February, citing several reasons for pursuing the project under the commission’s new pilot licensing process rather than the standard Integrated Licensing Process. It said the Yukon River project would test new hydrokinetic technology, the reason the new licensing process was developed. If the technology proves itself during testing, a final installation of three such units would increase total capacity to 300 kW, it said.

The project is proposed for a five-year test period to determine if it would affect fish and whether it is feasible in the Yukon River environment, the applicant said. During the test phase, AP&T proposes to install a single turbine with two side-by-side runners that would generate electricity in a river velocity of 5.3 knots.

Initially, the turbine would be deployed from a pontoon barge. It later could be moored to an anchor if the turbine proves reliable. The turbine would be modified to operate in the river free of the barge. However, testing also could determine the turbine is best operated from the barge.

AP&T generates electricity at hydroelectric and diesel power plants throughout Alaska, serving 24 communities. The community of Eagle currently is completely reliant upon diesel generation to meet its electrical needs. The Yukon River project would supply electricity to Eagle, and to the nearby Alaska native community of Eagle Village.

FERC issued its first license for a hydrokinetic project to Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. in December 2007 for the 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project (No. 12751), proposed for the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington. (HNN 2/4/08) That license order followed the release of a policy statement in which FERC said it could, in certain circumstances, issue conditioned licenses for hydrokinetic projects. Although Finavera refers to Makah Bay as a �pilot project,� the Yukon River project was the first to be processed under FERC’s program for licensing hydrokinetic pilot projects.

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