New York City files notice to license four-plant hydro development

New York City has filed a notice of intent to apply for a hydropower license for the 29.75-MW West of Hudson hydroelectric project, apparently disregarding a U.S. senator’s plea to include a local electric cooperative in development of the project on four New York City water supply reservoirs.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection submitted the notice to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Aug. 13, 2009, advancing plans for the project in Upstate New York. FERC granted a preliminary permit to the city in May to study the project (No. 13287).

Delaware County Electric Cooperative filed the first preliminary permit application for what it called the 63-MW Catskills Hydro project (No. 13222), but was bested by New York City based on FERC’s policy of municipal preference in cases of competing applications.

In July, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged New York City to speed up talks with Delaware County Electric Cooperative to develop the project jointly. (HydroWorld 7/15/09) Schumer had said the city admitted it did not have the desire or ability to develop the project and had said publicly it would like the Delaware County co-op to develop it. However, Schumer had complained that those statements had not resulted in productive talks with the cooperative.

The DEP filing said the city intended to file a license application utilizing FERC’s traditional licensing process. It also filed a progress report Aug. 31, saying it had engaged Gomez and Sullivan Engineers as its lead consultant.

DEP said Gomez and Sullivan is assisting with development, design of hydro facilities, performance of studies to assess project feasibility, and preparation of a license application. DEP said it also hired Brubaker and Associates Inc. for energy price forecasting, Hartgen Archeological Associates Inc. for historical and archeological investigation, and HydroLogics Inc. for assistance in energy modeling.

New York’s proposal includes powerhouses at existing earthen dams and reservoirs: 12.1-MW Cannonsville, West Branch Delaware River, 25.46 gigawatt-hours of annual generation; 1.65-MW Neversink, Neversink River, 7.79 GWh; 3.1-MW Pepacton, East Branch Delaware River, 9.04 GWh; and 12.9-MW Schoharie, Schoharie Creek, 31.8 GWh. The preliminary permit gives the New York City Department of Environmental Protection three years in which to study the feasibility of the project.

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