Hydro Currents

Duke Energy plans to expand 1,065-MW Bad Creek pumped storage by 200 MW

Duke Energy announced plans in early September to expand its 1,065-MW Bad Creek pumped storage project by 200 MW, with an anticipated completion date of 2023.

This upgrade was included in the Duke Energy Carolinas Integrated Resources Plan that was filed Sept. 1. The company plans to file a license amendment for this work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2017.

Work to increase capacity will involve installing a more efficient and powerful pump-turbine, a new generator and higher-rated generator output circuit breakers.

“The upgrade is part of our strategy to increase renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint,” says Kim Crawford, Duke Energy corporate communications. “The additional energy storage will provide a benefit to more renewables in the region. It will also help meet our winter peak demand in the morning hours – when solar power is typically not available.”

Bad Creek is about 8 miles north of Salem, S.C., and began operating in 1991. The underground powerhouse contains four pump-turbine and motor-generator units and provides about 10% of Duke Energy’s power capacity in the Carolinas.

U.S., China formally join Paris climate change agreement

On Sept. 3, U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping formally agreed to participate in the negotiated 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change. Obama and Xi delivered a series of documents certifying the U.S. and China have taken necessary steps to join the COP 21 Paris accord that set nation-by-nation targets for reducing carbon emissions.

“This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone,” Obama said. “Some day we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

Xi said he hoped other countries would follow suit and advance new technologies to help them meet their targets. “When the old path no longer takes us far, we should turn to innovation,” he said.

The formal U.S.-Chinese announcement means the accord could enter force by the end of the year if two conditions are met: The 55-nation ratification level is met and, in total, the nations that join produce at least 55% of global emissions. Combined, the U.S. and China produce 38% of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the Paris agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their GHG. The targets are not legally binding, but countries must report on their progress and update their targets every five years.

FERC rejects permit application for 700-MW hydro project in Oregon

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected an April 25 application from Loxbridge Partners LLC for a preliminary permit under which it was to study feasibility of the McNary Second Powerhouse Project.

The project was to be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ McNary Lock and Dam on the Columbia River in Umatilla County, Ore. The project would consist of a powerhouse built in place of the McNary Dam south abutment with seven 100-MW Kaplan turbine-generator units, two or three step-up transformers. and two 1,300-yard-long transmission lines interconnecting with the existing McNary Dam substation. Estimated annual generation would be 3,700 GWh.

On May 16, FERC staff sent the Corps a letter requesting its opinion on non-federal development at McNary Dam. The Corps on Aug. 2 stated it believes FERC does not have jurisdiction to issue a preliminary permit or license for a project at the site. The Corps opposed Loxbridge’s project on the grounds that it would interfere with the Corps’ operation of McNary Dam.

On Aug. 8, Loxbridge argued that FERC’s jurisdiction over the non-federal development of hydropower at the dam is not withdrawn, that its project would not interfere with Corps operation of the dam, and that the Corps’ arguments regarding incompatible operation would be addressed as part of the licensing process.

Said the Sept. 2 FERC order: “Because the Corps, … whose permission would be needed for the development of any project at that facility, has stated that it opposes the project, there is no purpose in issuing a preliminary permit.”

Editor’s Note: This content was originally featured on GenerationHub.com, a sister site of HydroWorld.com.

Gravity Renewables adds to portfolio with two New York projects

Colorado-based Gravity Renewables has acquired a pair of small hydropower projects in New York, adding 10 MW of capacity to the company’s growing portfolio.

Included in the acquisition are the 8-MW Seneca Falls and 2-MW Waterloo plants, located in the Finger Lakes region. The plants were completed in 1917 and 1916, respectively, to use the increased water volume and elevation required to operate the newly-completed Seneca-Cayuga branch of the Barge Canal.

Ownership of the plants has changed a number of times in the ensuing decades. The pair were most recently purchased in 2001 by the American Energy Company under the Seneca Falls Power Corp.

“The Seneca Falls and Waterloo hydro facilities are a perfect fit for Gravity,” company Chief Executive Officer Ted Rose said. “Nearly a century old, these facilities deserve to be both preserved for their historical significance and to continue to provide clean power to central New York.”

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Vermont will not purchase 13 hydro facilities

A proposal to have the state of Vermont buy 13 dams that impound water for hydroelectric facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers in hopes of stabilizing power prices appears to be over. Instead, state officials are talking about pursuing a long-term power purchase from whatever entity ends up owning the properties.

Administration Secretary Justin Johnson is chairman of a special working group looking at buying the series of hydro stations that energy giant TransCanada has put up for sale. He and working group member Vincent Illuzzi say the price of the dams – expected to be US$800 million to $1.2 billion – is too high for Vermont.

The hydro plants are:

  • In Vermont – 41-MW Harriman and 5-MW Searsburg;
  • Between Vermont and New Hampshire – 49-MW Bellows Falls, 144-MW Comerford, 11-MW McIndoes, 192-MW Moore, 37-MW Vernon and 41-MW Wilder; and
  • In Massachusetts – 7-MW Deerfield No. 2, 7-MW Deerfield No. 3, 6-MW Deerfield No. 4, 14-MW Deerfield No. 5 and 6-MW Sherman.

Innergex announces commercial startup of 40.6-MW Big Silver Creek

Commercial operation has begun at the 40.6-MW Big Silver Creek hydroelectric plant, developer Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. said in late August. Construction on the run-of-river project began in June 2014 and was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, according to Innergex. The facility has an effective commissioning date of July 29.

“We are proud to have commissioned our 43rd facility, reinforcing our leadership position among independent power producers in British Columbia and in Canada with a gross installed capacity totaling 1,359 MW,” President and Chief Executive Officer Michel Letellier said.

Big Silver Creek is located on Crown land about 40 km north of Harrison Hot Springs and is expected to generate power for about 12,700 homes. Innergex expects annual revenues from the project of about US$14 million, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $11.6 million.

Power generated will be sold under a 40-year fixed-price power purchase agreement with BC Hydro.

SMUD seeks to drop 400-MW Iowa Hill pumped storage from license

Saying costs are too high and the need too little, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to let it drop the 400-MW Iowa Hill pumped storage project from an existing license. SMUD filed the application May 25, and FERC put it up for public comment Aug. 25, with comments, motions to intervene and protests due in 30 days.

SMUD proposes to delete Iowa Hill from its license for the Upper American River Hydroelectric Project on Silver Creek and the Rubicon and South Fork American rivers. The district said it is unlikely that it would need any significant portion of Iowa Hill’s capacity and the estimated cost of construction is significantly higher than expected at the time of licensing. In addition, SMUD is requesting that the license provisions solely related to the Iowa Hill Development be deleted from the license. This license was issued in July 2014.

Said the May 25 letter to FERC: “SMUD conducted extensive environmental and geotechnical studies, construction impact assessments, permitting work, drilling of groundwater monitoring wells, and engineering studies of the Iowa Hill Development. … SMUD’s construction cost estimate for the Iowa Hill Development based on a 2015 analysis increased from an estimated range (in 2007 dollars) of $552-850 million at the time of licensing, to almost $1.5 billion (in 2015 dollars) including necessary transmission system upgrades. SMUD also conducted a comprehensive forecast of SMUD’s potential energy storage needs in the coming decades and determined the Iowa Hill Development is unlikely to be needed.”

Editor’s Note: This content was originally featured on GenerationHub.com, a sister site of HydroWorld.com.

Reclamation grants contract for 314-MW John W. Keys III upgrades

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a US$19 million contract to American Hydro to replace and update two units at the 314-MW John W. Keys III Pump Generating Plant.

This facility, on the Columbia River in Washington, is part of the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee Dam Power Complex that provides flood control, irrigation, hydropower production, recreation, stream flows, and fish and wildlife benefits.

Work on Units 5 and 6 will take place over the next two years while accommodating for irrigation demand, according to a press release. It is scheduled to be finished by January 2020. This overhaul continues a 20-year modernization effort at the plant. “This effort is pivotal to the infrastructure modernization at the Keys Plant. The pump units will provide greater efficiency, flexibility and capacity in hydropower production and water delivery,” said Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez.

The project is funded through Bonneville Power Administration; South Columbia, Quincy and East Columbia Basin Irrigation Districts, and Congressional appropriations.

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