FERC certifies 456-MW Noxon Rapids for production tax credits

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation at the 456-MW Noxon Rapids hydroelectric development in Montana for renewable energy production tax credits.

Noxon Rapids, on Clark Fork River, is one of two plants in Avista Utilities’ Clark Fork project (No. 2058). The other, 265-MW Cabinet Gorge, is about 20 miles downstream.

Avista is spending $35 million to upgrade the Noxon Rapids development, its largest hydroelectric plant. When work on four 50-year-old units is complete in 2012, Avista expects the plant to provide about 28 MW of additional base load capacity for its system. (HydroWorld 3/4/09)

The licensee sought the federal production tax credit for efficiency improvements from replacing the Unit No. 1 turbine runner with a new high efficiency runner by Toshiba International.

In a Jan. 4, 2010, order, FERC certified an annual historical generation baseline for the unit of 3,043,637 kilowatt-hours, and incremental generation from the improvement of 25,432 kWh, an increase of 0.84 percent in generation.

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute said in December that Avista submitted an application for LIHI certification of the Clark Fork project. The voluntary LIHI program is designed to help consumers identify environmentally sound, low-impact hydropower facilities. (HydroWorld 12/9/09)

Certification sought for Maine’s 4.468-MW Benton Falls

Hydro operator Benton Falls Associates has requested certification of incremental generation at its 4.468-MW Benton Falls hydroelectric project on the Sebasticook River in Kennebec County, Maine.

In a Dec. 23, 2009, filing, Benton Falls Associates said it seeks certification for production tax credits due to replacement of a fish screen on its 750-kW Unit 2. Due to mortality of migrating eels, the 2-inch-spacing fish screen on the 3.718-MW Unit 1 had been replaced with a 1-inch screen, while the 750-kW Unit 2 retained a 2-inch screen and was ordered to stop running during evening hours between September and November.

To improve operating efficiency, Benton Falls Associates replaced the Unit 2 screen with a 1-inch screen, allowing nighttime operation during eel migration. As a result, the applicant said, the unit’s annual output improved by 309,867 kilowatt-hours or 1.91 percent.

In December, FERC certified incremental generation at the 168.4-MW North Georgia hydroelectric project in Georgia and South Carolina for production tax credits. (HydroWorld 1/6/10)

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Internal Revenue Code to apply a production tax credit to incremental production gains from efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydropower facilities placed in service after Aug. 8, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2014. The Internal Revenue Service determines whether to grant the credits after FERC certifies hydropower production. FERC has certified incremental generation for more than three dozen hydro projects since August 2005.

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