Breaking News: Hydrocurrents

Judge allows Alcoa to start over with Yadkin environmental licensing

A decision by a North Carolina judge has granted Alcoa Power Generating’s motion to dismiss an appeal following the revocation of a water quality certificate for its Yadkin project.

Alcoa, primarily known for its aluminum production, received certification in May 2008 for 210-MW Yadkin, which includes four facilities along North Carolina’s Yadkin River. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revoked that certification in December 2010, saying Alcoa had failed to disclose details on the Yadkin project’s ability to meet state water quality standards.

Alcoa had originally appealed the decision but filed a motion for it to be dismissed without prejudice in September. “This new path will help us avoid a lengthy legal path,” says E. Ray Barnham, Yadkin relicensing manager.

The judge’s decision has allowed Alcoa to file a new application, which, if approved by DENR, would last for 50 years.

Reclamation announces finalized LOPP requirements

The Bureau of Reclamation has finalized its Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines and Charges Directive and Standard. These standards define the LOPP process and how the agency works with non-federal entities and are a follow-up to a temporary directive and standard issued in April.

“Through these leases, Reclamation is able to work with non-federal entities and project beneficiaries to increase the amount of renewable hydropower produced in meeting the growing energy needs of the nation,” says Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. He says the directive and standard provides a “clear and understanding process” to develop hydropower on Reclamation dams and canals.

The directive and standard provides timelines on LOPP requirements, assigns roles and responsibilities within the organization for LOPP development, sets a standard methodology across Reclamation for LOPP charges and identifies all potential charges for developers.

More details can be found at www.usbr.gov/recman/DandS.html#fac under Series FAC 04-08.

Group appeals FERC’s 2012 annual charges bills

A group of 10 licensees has appealed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s issuance of 2012 annual charges bills, contending $2.35 million in costs submitted by two federal agencies are inaccurate or unsubstantiated.

Recipients of benefits from federal activities – such as hydro licenses – pay annual charges to cover the government’s costs of providing those benefits. FERC bills licensees for its own and the costs of other federal agencies that participate in licensing.

FERC must determine the reasonableness of costs incurred by the other agencies. It requires agencies to submit their costs on a specific form by Dec. 31. It then allows licensees to review and comment on costs, holds a technical conference, and issues bills that divide the total costs among all licensees.

The appeal, led by the city of Idaho Falls, Idaho, challenges $1.91 million in costs from the National Marine Fisheries Service and $443,000 from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Filed Sept. 17 by Washington law firm Van Ness Feldman, the appeal is mostly critical of the NMFS’ Jan. 11 submission, which was fmade available to licensees Jan. 27. “NMFS’ summary information … did not meet the commission’s requirement for ‘detailed cost accounting reports or cost allocation analyses which support each cost category listed on the form,'” the licensees said. “NMFS’ filing consisted only of 17 pages of annual total cost summaries from each of NMFS’ various regional and other offices.”

Licensees also complained that NMFS provided no explanation of the cost codes for the annual total costs. Although FERC ordered NMFS to provide additional supporting information, the licensees said NMFS provided only a one-page response. On March 22, the day of the technical conference, a more detailed NMFS report was made available that still failed to meet FERC requirements, the licensees said.

Licensees also expressed concern about FWS reporting, and the agency confirmed numerous costs were not segregated according to municipal and non-municipal projects. Despite this, FERC included the disputed costs in the 2012 annual charges bills. Licensees accused FERC staff of “arbitrarily and capriciously” concluding the costs were reasonable under the Federal Power Act.

“…Commission staff’s decision to include over $1.91 million in costs reported by NMFS inexplicably departed from long-standing practice, lacked support of substantial evidence, and disregarded commission procedures,” the licensees argued. “By accepting NMFS’ untimely certified cost report, … staff ignored commission-mandated deadlines, undermining the very purpose of the technical conference and stripping licensees of an opportunity to raise and resolve issues prior to billing.”

Other appellants include the city of Seattle, Wash.; Chelan County, Wash., Public Utility District; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; South Sutter Water District; New York Power Authority; Consumers Energy Co.; Louisville Gas & Electric; FPL Energy Maine Hydro; and Merimil Limited Partnership.

Former Progress Energy CEO named head of TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority has chosen William D. Johnson to be its president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Johnson succeeds Tom Kilgore, who announced his retirement in September.

Johnson most recently served as CEO of Progress Energy, where he was instrumental in brokering the merger between Progress and Duke Energy in 2011. But, Duke announced that its CEO Jim Rogers would be named CEO of the combined company shortly before the merger was completed. This appointment caused Johnson to leave the company in August.

TVA says Kilgore will continue leading the US$11 billion federal agency until Johnson’s arrival, then help in the transition period following.

NHA urged hydropower advocates to support three pieces of legislation

Action on Capitol Hill slowed preceding November’s presidential election, but the National Hydropower Association used the October recess to push a trio of bills that would benefit the hydroelectric industry.

The three pieces of legislation caught in the limbo of lame duck season include the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011, Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012, and Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012.

The Hydropower Improvement Act, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkoski (R-Alaska) and eight bi-partisan co-sponsors in March 2011, passed a Senate committee by a voice vote more than a year ago but has been stuck on the Senate floor calendar. The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012 – officially known as H.R. 5892 – passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a unanimous vote in July, and the Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 2842) appeared before the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in September.

NHA says a delay into the next session essentially means starting the legislative process again.

HydroVision International is a Trade Show Executive Fastest 50 Winner

HydroVision International achieved a prestigious ranking among the fastest-growing trade shows in the U.S. as one of Trade Show Executive‘s Fastest 50 winners.

HydroVision International received recognition in the categories of the fastest growing trade shows in 2011 for net square feet of exhibit space sold and number of participating exhibitors. In 2011, HydroVision International’s exhibition featured 318 exhibitors showcasing products and services in more than 50 categories, including mechanical and electrical equipment, engineering services and dam safety and civil related technology.

“We appreciate Trade Show Executive‘s recognition of this important event,” says Marla Barnes, publisher of PennWell Corporation’s Hydro Group. “HydroVision International’s growth reflects the strength of this industry and the commitment of the companies that serve it.”

Trade Show Executive magazine provides news, views and tools to the managers of shows large and small so that show executives can turn innovative ideas into a competitive edge.

The HydroVision International Conference and Exhibition is held annually, drawing more than 3,000 attendees from more than 40 countries and more than 300 exhibitors. The 2013 event will take place July 23 to 26, 2013, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. To learn more, visit www.hydroevent.com.

Reclamation awards Andritz contract for work at 2,078-MW Hoover Dam

Andritz Hydro Corp. has won a US$1.5 million contract from the Bureau of Reclamation to supply four impulse turbine runners for use at 2,078-MW Hoover Dam. Andritz will perform computational fluid dynamic analysis and manufacture and deliver two runners with associated parts for Hoover’s Arizona Unit A0 and two runners and parts for Nevada Unit N0.

Reclamation awarded a $3.3 million contract to Voith Hydro in January for work on Hoover Dam’s Unit A8.

Hoover Dam is on the Colorado River on the Nevada/Arizona state line and was host to President Barack Obama, who made an impromptu stop there during a campaign break in early October. Hoover Dam and its accompanying 2,078-MW hydro plant have often been cited by Obama to illustrate the importance of government-funded public infrastructure, although the President says this was his first visit to the facility.

Siemens reaffirms commitment to hydro

Citing slow growth, low profit and high cost, Siemens AG is selling its solar energy business as part of a strategy to focus its renewable energy efforts in the hydropower and wind sectors.

“Due to the changed framework conditions, lower growth and strong price pressure in the solar markets,” Siemens said in a statement, “the company’s expectations for its solar energy activities have not been met.”

Siemens unveiled a plan earlier in October to develop an optimized infrastructure through cost reduction and the strengthening of its core activities. The company’s hydroelectric efforts include Voith Hydro, a joint effort between Voith Group and Siemens. In addition, the company owns the majority share in ocean energy company Marine Current Turbines Ltd.

Michael Suess, member of the managing board of Siemens AG and chief executive officer of its energy sector, said, “The importance of renewable energies in the global power mix will continue to grow, and hydropower and wind energy will remain the major renewable contributors.”

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