FERC certifies production tax credits for five hydro projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation at five more hydroelectric projects in six states for renewable energy production tax credits.

Certification awarded for new trash rake at 24-MW Twin Falls

FERC approved on March 9 a request by Twin Falls Hydro Associates L.P. to certify incremental generation based on Twin Falls’ plan to install an automatic trash rake system at its 24-MW Twin Falls project (No. 4885) on the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington.

The hydro operator said debris loading occurs at the project continuously, reducing flows and generation. It added that generation also is reduced during manual removal of debris from project trashracks. The new automatic trash rake system, with a differential sensor, is expected to be installed by April 1.

FERC certified Twin Falls’ annual historical baseline generation of 69,339 MWh. Based on modeling of generation after trash rake installation, FERC certified new annual generation of 70,596 MWh, an increase of 1,256 MWh or 1.81 percent.

Runner replacement earns new certification for 4.675-MW Clyde River

On March 2, FERC approved a request by Great Bay Hydro Corp. for certification of efficiency improvements at its 4.675-MW Clyde River project (No. 2306) near Newport, Vt. The improvements resulted from installation of a new turbine runner for Unit 3 of Clyde River’s Newport development.

FERC certified incremental generation at the Newport development in 2006, after Great Bay rebuilt Newport Unit 3, which had not been operated for five years, replaced the hydraulic control system, and installed new electronic controls for all three units in the Newport development.

The latest certification comes from installation of a new turbine runner for Newport Unit 3. As a result, FERC certified the Clyde River project’s annual historical baseline generation of 16,912 MWh and new annual generation of 17,388 MWh, an increase of 476 MWh or 2.81 percent.

In 2009, FERC certified other efficiency improvements at Clyde River resulting from its proposed repowering of the project’s West Charleston development, which has been out of service since 1998 due to the poor condition of its penstock. FERC had approved a license amendment that allows Great Bay to restore West Charleston by replacing the entire powerhouse, rather than simply restoring the original penstock.

Commission again certifies new generation at 4.85-MW Gilman

The commission approved a request from hydro operator Ampersand Gilman Hydro LP for certification of incremental generation at the 4.85-MW Gilman (No. 2392) hydroelectric project on the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire. FERC certified increased generation due to replacement of the turbine runner of Unit 4, which went on line in November 2010.

The commission previously certified incremental generation at Gilman in 2010 due to four efficiency improvement projects Ampersand Gilman carried out since it took operational control of Gilman in August 2008.

In the latest certification, FERC found Gilman has an annual historical generation baseline of 25,961 MWh and new annual generation of 28,167 MWh, an increase of 2,206 MWh or 8.5 percent.

House units, station service upgraded for PTC at 230.75-MW Osage

FERC also certified incremental generation for production tax credits at AmerenUE’s 230.75-MW Osage project in Missouri. AmerenUE reported efficiency improvements from the upgrade of two house units and the station service electrical system at Osage (No. 459) on the Osage River.

FERC previously certified efficiency improvements at Osage from the upgrade of two generating units in 2010 and two others in 2009.

In the latest certification, FERC found an annual historical generation baseline of 711,339 MWh and new annual generation of 721,914 MWh, an increase of 10,575 MWh or 1.5 percent.

Runner replacements bring more credits for 710-MW Jocassee

FERC also issued an order certifying incremental hydropower generation planned for the four-unit Jocassee pumped-storage station, part of the 867.6-MW Keowee-Toxaway project (No. 2503) in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Licensee Duke Power plans to replace runners and perform related work at pump-turbine Units 1 and 2 of Jocassee, boosting the plant’s authorized installed capacity to 710.1 MW. Jocassee and the 157.5-MW Keowee development form the Keowee-Toxaway project on the Keowee, Little, Whitewater, Toxaway, Thompson, and Horsepasture rivers, all tributaries of the Savannah River.

FERC certified incremental generation at Jocassee in 2006 for upgrades to Units 3 and 4.

In the latest certification, FERC found an annual historical generation baseline of 878,554 MWh and new annual generation of 906,540 MWh, an increase of 27,986 MWh or 3.19 percent.

FERC rejects 100 percent incremental generation at restored Maine hydro

FERC rejected a request by Messalonskee Stream Hydro LLC for FERC to certify incremental generation of 100 percent for the 1.8-MW Union Gas hydro development, part of the 6.3-MW Messalonskee hydroelectric project (No. 2556) on Maine’s Messalonskee Stream.

Messalonskee Stream Hydro, an affiliate of Essex Hydro Associates LLC, acquired the project in 2003 from FPL Energy Maine Hydro LLC. Other developments include 2.9-MW Oakland and 1.6-MW Rice Rips. At that time, Union Gas had not been operating since 2001 due to failure of the development’s dam.

The new owner reconstructed the dam and resumed generation in 2007. Because the project was inoperable for more than six years, Messalonskee Stream Hydro argued that annual historic baseline generation should be listed as zero. It argued that would make its entire new annual generation of 6,043 MWh eligible for production tax credits.

M. Joseph Fayyad of FERC’s Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance, wrote the licensee rejecting the application.

“The reconstruction of the dam and restoration of generation is maintenance rather than upgrade or improvement in generation efficiency; the project is required to be maintained an operated as authorized under the license,” Fayyad wrote. “As such, for the purposes of PTC the baseline for generation cannot be assumed zero. Only improvements above and beyond existing authorized capacities and generation efficiency will qualify for the PTC certification.”

FERC requires amendment before certifying 12.4-MW St. Anthony Falls

FERC rejected a request from Northern States Power Co. to certify incremental generation at the 12.4-MW St. Anthony Falls project in Minnesota because the licensee failed to obtain a hydro license amendment authorizing a 1.4-MW capacity increase from turbine-generator upgrades.

NSPC had requested certification for production tax credits at St. Anthony (No. 2056) due to upgrades of all five units. However, a letter from Director Edward Abrams of the Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance said the utility failed to obtain prior FERC approval of the capacity increase.

“Because of these increases in installed and hydraulic capacities of the project, the described updates constitute unauthorized construction,” Abrams wrote. “NPSC is put on notice that it must not operate the upgraded units at the higher installed and hydraulic capacities, must cease work on existing upgrades, and must not commence upgrade of the other units until NSPC files a license amendment application and the commission acts on the application.”

More projects seek certification for production tax credits

FERC continues to receive applications from other projects for certification of their additional generation. 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.

44.5-MW Rumford Falls

Licensee Rumford Falls Hydro LLC, an affiliate of Brookfield Renewable Power, applied for certification of incremental generation at the 44.5-MW Rumford Falls hydroelectric project (No. 2333) in Maine.

FERC previously certified incremental generation at the project in 2008 for upgrades to runners of both turbines at 15.2-MW Lower Station, one of two powerhouses at Rumford Falls. Lower Station began operating in 1954 on the Androscoggin River. The other powerhouse, 29.3-MW Upper Station, began service in 1903.

The current application seeks certification for incremental generation resulting from the upgrade of Upper Station Unit 3, installation of an inflatable flashboard system at Upper Station, and additional upgrades to Lower Station Units 1 and 2. Rumford Falls Hydro listed an annual historical generation baseline of 270,680 MWh and new annual generation of 291,540 MWh, an increase of 20,860 MWh or 7.7 percent.

2.7-MW Woronoco

Licensee Woronoco Hydro LLC applied for certification of incremental generation at the 2.7-MW Woronoco project (No. 2631) on the Westfield River in Massachusetts. FERC previously certified incremental generation at Woronoco in 2008 for upgraded turbine-generators, and operating control and maintenance.

Woronoco now seeks certification for increases in operating efficiency and reduced head losses due to newly designed fish passage that features interchangeable fish screens, utilizing screens with wider bar spacing during non-migration periods. The licensee also installed an automatic trash rake and repaired holes in a draft tube.

The licensee listed an annual historical generation baseline of 9,936 MWh and new annual generation of 10,693 MWh, an increase of 757 MWh or 7.62 percent.

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