Vermont, Idaho projects seek FERC certification for tax credits

Operators in Vermont and Idaho have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to certify incremental generation at two hydroelectric projects to be eligible for renewable energy production tax credits.

4.675-MW Clyde River

Licensee Great Bay Hydro Corp. requested certification for efficiency improvements at its 4.675-MW Clyde River project (No. 2306) near Newport, Vt., 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 certified incremental generation at the project in 2006 resulting from the rebuilding of Newport Unit 3, which had not been operated for five years, and to replacing the hydraulic control system and installing new electronic controls for all three units in the project’s other development, Newport 1, 2, 3. (HydroWorld 11/17/06)

The latest request follows FERC approval Nov. 9, 2009, of a license amendment that allows Great Bay to restore West Charleston by replacing the entire powerhouse, rather than by restoring the original penstock. The change reduces installed capacity of West Charleston to 675 kW from 800 kW and total Clyde River project capacity to 4,675 MW from its original 4.8 MW.

Nevertheless, the redesign of the development and replacement of its horizontal twin-runner Francis turbine with a vertical-flow double-regulated turbine is expected to increase efficiency sufficiently to produce additional generation. In a Nov. 24 filing for production tax credit certification, Great Bay said the project’s historic baseline generation of 2,510 megawatt-hours would increase by 631 MWh, up 25.1 percent.

4.1-MW Dry Creek

Dry Creek LLC, hydro licensing exemption holder for the 4.1-MW Dry Creek project, also requested certification of incremental generation at the project (No. 9134) on Dry Creek in Butte County, Idaho.

Dry Creek LLC cited a 2008 improvement to its 11.2-mile penstock by the installation of launch and retrieval equipment for use of pipeline pigs to smooth and clean the interior walls of the penstock. The hydro operator said the improvements resulted in a permanent increase in net head and an improvement in turbine operating efficiency.

The hydro operator used power sales statements from its wholesale power customer, PacifiCorp, to document the improvement in generation. Dry Creek LLC said the project’s historic baseline generation of 9,503 megawatt-hours increased by 763 MWh, up 8.03 percent.

FERC recently certified incremental generation at the 11.6-MW Dells hydroelectric project in Wisconsin and the 29.08-MW Piney project in Pennsylvania for renewable energy production tax credits. (HydroWorld 11/23/09)

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. FERC has certified incremental generation for more than three dozen hydro projects since August 2005.

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