FERC approves first hydro project under Colorado small hydro pact

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a hydropower license exemption for the first small hydro project to apply pursuant to a pilot program established by a FERC memorandum of understanding with the state of Colorado.

FERC said it issued an exemption Sept. 14 to George Wenschhof for the 23-kW Meeker Wenschhof project (No. 14230), to be built on an existing irrigation pipeline near Meeker, Colo. The project includes a powerhouse with one turbine-generator that is to generate 100,000 kWh annually.

FERC said the project was approved over two months. It had reported in July that it received an application for conduit exemption from Wenscher.

Under the 2010 MOU, FERC and Colorado agreed that Colorado would develop a pilot program to test options to simplify procedures for authorizing exemptions from FERC hydropower licenses. Under the Federal Power Act, exemptions are allowed for small hydro plants on conduits and for hydropower projects of 5 MW or less that utilize an existing dam or natural water feature.

The Colorado pilot program pre-screens project applications to ensure they qualify either for conduit or 5-MW exemptions. Screening is to determine that the projects either use an existing non-hydropower conduit, an existing dam, or a natural water feature. It also determines that applicants own the project features, and that 5-MW exemption applications propose new installed capacity or increased capacity.

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