Hydro Currents

Hydro project funding awarded to four Indian tribes

The federal Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development awarded $1.9 million to four Indian tribes for hydroelectric projects as part of $9.4 million to assist in developing energy and mineral resources. The grants were awarded under the Energy and Mineral Development Program administered by the office, which is a division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.

Projects funded are for renewable energy sources, including hydropower, that are to provide clean low-cost power to tribal members and encourage business on tribal lands.

The largest amount, $1.2 million, goes to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation to help them acquire critical expertise and infrastructure necessary to acquire and operate the 194-MW Kerr Dam hydro project on the Flathead River in Montana (see story at right). When the tribes acquire the project in 2015, they will become the first tribes in the nation to own and operate a major hydroelectric project.

The program awarded $325,000 to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada to help assess the hydro potential of http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/09/knight-construction-wins-contract-for-prosser-creek-dam-gate-rehabilitations.html Marble Bluff Dam and Numana Dam on the reservation. http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2011/12/draft-u-s-study-endorses.html The funding also is to help assess run-of-river applications for an irrigation system and small hydropower on perennial streams to offset high electricity costs for fish hatcheries.

The program awarded $189,080 to the Pueblo of Cochiti in New Mexico to study the financial and technical feasibility of producing hydroelectric power at Cochiti Dam on the Rio Grande to provide income for the tribe.

And the program awarded $140,000 to the Metlakatla Indian Community in Alaska to evaluate the feasibility of replacing three 1.2-MW turbine-generators at Metlakatla Power & Light’s 3.5-MW Purple Lake hydro project on Annete Island. The project was built in 1956 and needs system updates.

U.S. awards fish passage construction for 810-MW Lower Granite Dam

Garco Construction Inc. has received a $48.3 million contract to upgrade the juvenile fish passage facility at 810-MW Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in Washington.

Garco, of Spokane, Wash., is to construct an upgraded fish passage system to provide additional water through enlarged 14-inch orifices. To accommodate the added flow, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said concrete mining is required to enlarge the existing collection channel and the existing transportation channel.

A new section of transportation channel is to be mined through the dam to exit the downstream face of the dam. Additionally, a new transportation channel and associated systems are to be installed from the dam to the juvenile fish facility.

Montana PSC approves PPL sale of 11 hydro plants to NorthWestern Energy

The Montana Public Service Commission issued its formal final order approving PPL Montana’s sale of 11 hydro plants totaling 663 MW to NorthWestern Energy.

PPL Montana said the PSC action follows prior approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of hydropower license transfers to NorthWestern upon close of the transaction. PPL said before the transaction can close, NorthWestern must file with FERC and obtain approval of certain financing transactions.

PPL Montana, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp., http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/09/ppl-corporation-sells-11-hydropower-projects-to-northwestern.html announced the $900 million deal in September 2013. The seller expects its net cash proceeds to be about $880 million. NorthWestern Energy acquired the original hydro project owner, Montana Power, in 2000, at which time the hydro projects were sold to PPL Corp.

Included in the sale are the http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-31/issue-06/article/regulatory-issues-understanding-riverbed-issues-associated-with-dams.html Missouri-Madison project comprising the 19-MW Hauser, 48-MW Holter, 21-MW Black Eagle, 60-MW Rainbow, 69-MW Cochrane, 60-MW Ryan and 48-MW Morony plants on the Missouri River, and the 8-MW Madison plant and the unpowered http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-33/issue-7/cover-story/upgrade-bringing-hebgen-dam-up-to-modern-seismic-design-standards.html Hebgen Dam on the Madison River; http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-32/issue-7/departments/sticky-wickets-repairing-failed-stator-core-bolts-at-thompson-falls.html 94-MW Thompson Falls on Clark Fork; http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2007/12/ferc-issues-first-license-using-integrated-licensing-process.html 12-MW Mystic Lake on West Rosebud Creek; and http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2007/12/ferc-certifies-18825-mw-kerr-18-mw-phoenix-for-production-tax-credits.html 194-MW Kerr on the Flathead River.

NorthWestern Energy has said the deal also confirms commitments to proceed with the transfer of Kerr Dam to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

FERC relicenses one project, OKs expansions and exemptions at others

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensed a Texas-Louisiana hydropower project, authorized expansion of an Oregon project and approved an Oregon conduit exemption during August.

The Energy Infrastructure Update for August 2014, compiled by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, features relicensing of the http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/09/ferc-issues-relicense-for-82-3-mw-toledo-bend-hydro-project.html Toledo Bend project on the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border. The Toledo Bend relicense adds a new 1.3-MW minimum flow unit to the project for total installed capacity of 82.3 MW.

In their relicense application, joint licensees Sabine River Authority of Texas and the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana, proposed to construct a 1.3-MW horizontal Francis minimum flow turbine-generator in a second powerhouse downstream of the Toledo Bend spillway.

FERC also http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/03/ferc-takes-input-on-new-turbines-at-portland-general-hydro-project.html issued a license amendment to Portland General Electric allowing the utility to utilize minimum flow turbine-generators to expand by 3.89 MW the 136.6-MW Clackamas River project in Clackamas County, Ore.

The amendment authorizes PGE to construct: a powerhouse at the base of Timothy Lake Dam housing two 950-kW turbines; a powerhouse at Crack-in-the-Ground housing a 1-MW turbine; a powerhouse housing a 135-kW turbine utilizing return flows from the juvenile downstream migrant collection systems and the North Fork fishway adult fish trap; and a powerhouse and an 850-kW turbine and induction generator utilizing North Fork fishway attraction flows.

Also in Oregon, FERC issued a conduit exemption to Monroe Hydro LLC for the 300-kW Monroe Drop project on the North Unit Irrigation District’s main canal in Jefferson County, Ore. Under terms of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, for the first time http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/09/ferc-conforms-its-regulations-to-hydropower-regulatory-efficiency-act.html FERC was able to grant the conduit exemption for a project located on federal lands, a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal.

Corps to test 52-MW unit at Missouri’s Stockton Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing for testing and operation of a new 52-MW hydropower turbine replacing the original 45.2-MW unit at the Stockton Dam project in Missouri.

The Corps’ Kansas City District said work is under way to prepare for testing and operation. It said testing, expected to begin about Sept. 29, is to be marked by increased water releases from Stockton into the Sac River.

Voith Hydro http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2010/04/u-s–awards-voith.html received a $30.8 million contract in 2010 to replace the project’s sole turbine, a Kaplan unit that was commissioned in 1973. The contract included replacing the runner, rewinding the generator stator winding, upgrading the hydraulic governor with a digital governor and replacing the existing excitation system with a digital excitation system.

The original unit http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-33/issue-2/cover-story/replacing-a-failed-runner-at-the-stockton-plant.html sustained runner blade failure in 2009, attributed to rough operation, prompting the Corps to suspect the original unit had not been designed for that particular facility.

DOE approves transmission line to deliver Quebec hydropower to New York

The U.S. Department of Energy issued a presidential permit approving construction and operation of a 1,000-MW transmission line to carry Quebec hydroelectric power to customers in New York City.

The proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line would carry hydropower and some wind power from http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-32/issue-10/cover-story/northern-exposure-canadian-hydro-in-the-spotlight.html Canada’s Quebec Province, across the border at Champlain, N.Y., to Astoria, Queens, New York. DOE http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/08/u-s-eis-advances-transmission-to-deliver-quebec-hydropower-to-new-york.html issued a final environmental impact statement in August, endorsing the 336-mile transmission line’s route in the U.S., while Quebec and Canadian agencies reviewed environmental effects in that country.

A record of decision, signed Sept. 24 by Assistant DOE Secretary Patricia Hoffman, granted the presidential permit necessary for the project to proceed in the U.S. “All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the alternative selected have been, or will be, adopted,” the order said.

The New York Public Service Commission http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/04/plan-approved-to-import-hydroelectric-power-from-quebec-to-new-y.html approved the proposal in April. Supporters say the plan will bring clean, cheaper hydropower to the region, reducing reliance on coal and other generating technologies, and reducing electricity prices and greenhouse gases. Critics say importing power from Canada would reduce local power sales and jobs in the area.

The $2 billion project — owned by Champlain Hudson Power Express Inc. and CHPA Properties Inc. — involves the construction and operation of the Champlain Hudson Power Express, which would consist of two wires stretched mostly underwater beneath Lake Champlain and the Hudson, Harlem and East rivers.

The EIS may be obtained at http://www.chpexpresseis.org/index.php

FERC conforms its regulations to Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has amended its regulations on preliminary permits, exemptions and conduit projects to comply with provisions of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.

To reduce the regulatory burden on some hydropower development, Congress passed HREA (H.R.267), which was http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/08/obama-signs-hydroelectric-power-bills-h-r-267-and-678-now-federal-law.html signed into law by President Obama in 2013. One finding by Congress was that there is substantial potential for adding hydropower generation to non-powered dams.

The HREA:

  • Increases the maximum small hydro licensing exemption to 10 MW from 5 MW;
  • Excludes from FERC jurisdiction qualifying projects under 5 MW that are on water conduits;
  • Increases the maximum capacity for conduit exemptions to 40 MW regardless of whether they are owned by municipalities (non-municipalities’ exemptions had been restricted to a maximum of 15 MW) and allows them to be installed on federal lands;
  • Provides FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits two years beyond their current three-year terms; and
  • Requires FERC to examine a two-year licensing process for adding hydropower to non-powered dams and for closed-loop pumped-storage projects.

Soon after passage of the act, FERC staff updated the commission website to provide guidance on the new provisions and began processing applications http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/01/ferc-staff-reports-on-initial-work-to-implement-hydropower-regulatory-efficiency-act.html under the new law. However, the latest rulemaking (RM14-22), approved Sept. 18, formalizes compliance of the commission’s regulations with the law.

In compliance with HREA, FERC has http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/02/ferc-grants-new-permit-for-240-mw-alaska-tidal-energy-project.html issued two-year preliminary permit extensions, granted a small conduit exemption on federal lands to the http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/12/ferc-receives-filings-for-massachusetts-hydro-license-oregon-exemption.html 300-kW Monroe Drop project on a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal, and ruled on a number of applications to http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/05/ferc-denies-small-conduit-designation-for-project-on-new-york-canal-system.html exclude conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction. It also has approved a two-year licensing pilot project for the http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/08/ferc-oks-two-year-licensing-pilot-project-for-kentucky-hydro-project.html 4.9-MW Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 11 project.

The new rules may be obtained at www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2014/091814/H-1.pdf.

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