FERC issues pilot project license for 70-kW Igiugig Hydrokinetic Project in Alaska

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a 10-year pilot project license to the Igiugig Village Council to construct, operate and maintain the 70-kW Igiugig Hydrokinetic Project.

The project will be located on the Kvichak River in the Lake and Peninsula Burough, near the town of Igiugig in Alaska.

The Igiugig Project will consist of a 35-kW instream RivGen Power System Turbine Generator Unit to be installed during Phase 1. The unit will be mounted on a pontoon about 52 feet long by 12 feet high by 47 feet wide. An additional 35-kW unit will be installed during Phase 2. The RivGen system is developed by Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC).

Two anchoring systems will keep the units in place during project operation. A 375-foot-long combined power, data and environmental monitoring underwater cable will connect the unit installed in Phase 1 to a junction box located on an unnamed island east of the deployment site. Another 675-foot-long cable will connect the unit installed in Phase 2 to the same junction box.

The project will operate year-round using the currents of the Kvichak River. Power generated will be transmitted to the village’s distribution system. The project is expected to generate 202 MWh of electricity annually during Phase 1 and 404 MWh annually during Phase 2.

With FERC staff-recommended measures, the project would produce power at a cost that is $323.14/MWh, more than the cost of alternative power. FERC said, “Although our analysis shows that the project is licensed herein would cost more to operate than our estimated cost of alternative power, it is the applicant who must decide whether to accept this license and any financial risk that entails.” FERC also said, “The fact that hydropower generation is relatively insensitive to inflation compared to fossil-fueled generators is an important consideration for power producers and the consumers they serve.”

The hydrokinetic pilot project licensing process is intended to meet the needs of entities interested in testing new hydropower technologies while minimizing the risk of adverse environmental impacts, FERC says.

FERC says a pilot project should be small, installed for a short term, located in non-sensitive areas, removable and able to be shut down on short notice, removed with site restoration before the end of the license term, and initiated by a draft application in a form sufficient to support environmental analysis.

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