FERC issues pilot license to 100-kW Whitestone hydrokinetic

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a pilot hydrokinetic project license to Alaska developer Whitestone Power and Communications for the 100-kW Whitestone Poncelet RISEC project on the Delta and Tanana rivers in Alaska.

Whitestone plans to develop commercially a single pontoon-mounted undershot Poncelet waterwheel with a maximum capacity of 100 kW to generate power from the river current. The developer said the project (No. 13305), to be installed near Whitestone, Alaska, is based on a conceptual design by Hasz Consulting LLC as well as extensive consultation with environmental agencies, state and federal energy regulatory agencies, and local energy producers.

Whitestone submitted its application under guidance of FERC’s Hydrokinetic Pilot License Procedures. FERC developed the pilot license process in 2008 to allow developers to test new hydrokinetic technologies, to determine appropriate sites for such technologies, and to confirm the technologies’ environmental effects without compromising FERC oversight.

Pilot licenses must be small, short-term, in an environmentally non-sensitive area, removable and able to shut down on short notice, and removed, with the site restored, before the license expires, unless a new license is issued.

FERC’s Oct. 19 licensing order said Whitestone’s first year of project power would cost $110,460, or $509.03 per MWh, more than the cost of alternative power.

Whitestone said construction of the project is planned to start within 18 months and to be completed within 24 months of issuance of the pilot license.

FERC issued a hydrokinetic pilot project license in February to the 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy project (No. 12711) in Maine. It issued its first hydrokinetic pilot license in January for a tidal project, the 1.05-MW Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project (No. 12611) in New York.

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