Bill dictates treatment of non-federal hydropower on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure
Text contained in the recently enacted Water Resources Reform and Development Act clarifies the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory process for private hydroelectric power development on federally-owned infrastructure. The bill received bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress before being signed by President Barack Obama on June 10.
Hydropower-specific language was ultimately adopted into the Senate version of the bill in Section 1008: Expediting Hydropower at Corps of Engineers Facilities. Per this section, Congress has declared that it is the policy of the U.S. that:
– Development of non-federal hydroelectric power at Corps civil works products should be given priority;
– Corps approval of non-federal hydroeletric power at its civil works products shall be completed by the Corps in a timely and consistent manner; and
– Approval of hydropower at Corps civil works projects shall in no way diminish the other priorities and missions of the Corps, including authorized project purposes and habitat and environmental protection.
Sec. 1008 also stipulates that the Corps must submit a report to the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, beginning on a biennial basis two years from the bill’s enacement. The report will describe initiatives carried out to encourage the development of hydropower by non-federal entities at Corps civil works projects, list all new hydropower activities by non-federal entities approved at Corps civil works projects in that fiscal year, describe the status of each pending application from non-federal entities, and more.
Pennsylvania announces grants, loans for hydropower development
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection have announced a grant and loan program designed to encourage the deployment of renewable generating technologies, including hydroelectric power. Announced through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) – an independent public financing agency established in 1982 – the program will offer about US$12.5 million for hydro, solar, wind and biomass projects on a competitive basis.
Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations; Pennsylvania schools, colleges and universities; any Pennsylvania municipality; and public or private corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, associations and other legal business entities.
“Such projects further our goal to develop a diverse and robust energy sector here in Pennsylvania, in a manner that protects our environment and uses our resources smartly and efficiently,” Corbett said.
Applications are due by Aug. 15 and must be submitted through www.grants.dcnr.state.pa.us/index.aspx. The state will award the grants in the fall.
BC Hydro names new president and CEO
Canadian utility BC Hydro has announced the appointment of Jessica McDonald as its new president and chief executive officer, effective July 14, ending a three-month search that began when current President and CEO Charles Reid announced plans to retire.
McDonald has held a number of posts under various administrations in the BC government since 1991 and most recently served as an independent consultant specializing in management, organizational performance, and commercial mediation and negotiation. She served as deputy minister to the Premier, cabinet secretary and head of public service from 2005 to 2009, where she was responsible for overseeing all government operations, including 36,000 employees and a US$36.6 billion budget. While in this position, McDonald led landmark discussions on the relationships between government and First Nations groups.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” McDonald said. “BC Hydro has an important role to play in growing British Columbia’s economy, and I look forward to leading a dedicated, skilled workforce and a strong capital investment program so that our customers can continue to benefit from an affordable, reliable and safe electricity system.”
Tri-County Water commissions 8-MW Ridgway Dam
Colorado’s Tri-County Water Conservancy District has commissioned the 8-MW Ridgway Dam hydropower complex. Built on a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation-owned dam along the Uncompahgre River, construction of the US$18 million plant began in November 2012.
The plant includes two turbine-generator units – one 800-kW system and a 7.2-MW system. The smaller unit will produce power in winter flows of 30 to 60 cubic feet per second, while the other will use 500 cfs flows during the summer.
“Here in the arid west, reliable drinking and irrigation water to grow our local food necessitates water storage facilities like Ridgway Dam,” Trout Unlimited representative Cary Denison said. “It makes sense to develop hydro at Ridgway Dam for the generation of new, emissions-free energy, using an existing clean energy resource which would otherwise be wasted.”
Power generated by the project will be sold to the city of Aspen and Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Revenues generated from power and Renewable Energy Credits sales will be used to repay loans on the project for the first 30 years, after which it will be used to offset Tri-County operating expenses.
Tri-County Water funded the project in large part with a $13 million 30-year loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, with an additional $2 million from a 20-year loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority.
Voith Hydro ships distributors, stators to AMP’s Smithland project
Voith Hydro’s manufacturing plant in Hannibal, Ohio, has made a shipment of three stators and three distributors to American Municipal Power’s 72-MW Smithland project in Kentucky.
The supplier has previously provided equipment for AMP’s other Ohio River projects, including 88-MW Cannelton and 105-MW Meldahl in Kentucky and 44-MW Willow Island in West Virginia. Voith Hydro’s shipment to Smithland is the last it will make for the Ohio River projects, which, when taken together, the company said, represents the largest new hydropower development undertaken in the U.S. in recent years.
“The shipment of stators and distributors to the Smithland hydroelectric project is another exciting development in a project that will soon bring thousands of households and businesses clean and affordable hydroelectric power,” Voith Hydro President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Frank said.
FERC licenses three hydro projects totaling 121 MW
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensed three hydro projects in Louisiana and Illinois totaling 121 MW in April. The Energy Infrastructure Update for April 2014, compiled by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, also included approval of a license amendment and an application for a project in California.
FERC issued three licenses, to:
– Red River Hydro LLC, a subsidiary of Symbiotics LLC, for the 78-MW Overton Lock and Dam project on the Red River in Rapides Parish, La., which will utilize the John H. Overton Lock and Dam operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
– BOST3 Hydroelectric LLC for the 36.2-MW Red River Lock and Dam No. 3 project, on the Corps’ Lock and Dam 3 on the Red River in Natchitoches Parish, La.; and
– Shelbyville Hydro LLC, a subsidiary of Symbiotics, for the 6.8-MW Lake Shelbyville Dam project on Illinois’ Kaskaskia River at the Corps’ Lake Shelbyville Dam.
FERC issued a license amendment to BMB Enterprises Inc. increasing capacity of the 650-kW Sixmile Creek project in Utah to 1.36 MW. Although licensed in 1987 on Sixmile Creek, the project’s only constructed facilities are a diversion dam and fish bypass due to delays. BMB applied for the amendment to allow four turbine-generators instead of two and a larger-diameter penstock. And Rugraw LLC filed an original license application in April for the 5-MW Lassen Lodge project on the South Fork Battle Creek in Tehama County, Calif.
The April 2014 update may be obtained at www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/apr-infrastructure.pdf.
Colorado enacts small hydro development bill
A bill enacted in late May by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will help aid the development of small hydroelectric power within the state. Hickenlooper signed the legislation – officially HB14-1030 – at the 7.5-MW South Canal hydro plant in Montrose, which began operation in June 2013.
The new law streamlines state environmental review for small hydro projects without weakening or changing any underlying state environmental requirements, according to the Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA). The bill directs the Colorado Energy Office to facilitate project review by state agencies in a timely manner commensurate with federal agency timelines, making it possible for an applicant to simultaneously clear both federal and state reviews as quickly as 60 days for “non-controversial” projects.
The bill also streamlines the electrical inspection process by citing National Electrical Code (NEC) standards that electricians should be guided by when installing small hydro. According to COSHA, electrical inspectors will now determine if a project meets NEC standards for safety, quality and code compliance.
COSHA said the bill could ultimately create more than 500 new jobs in Colorado, where an estimated 100 MW of small hydroelectric power potential could be developed. A further 30 MW of capacity could come from in-conduit sources, according to an agricultural hydropower assessment released by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in January.
Kaukauna Utilities completes Badger plant upgrade
Kaukauna Utilities marked the completion of an overhaul to its Badger small hydropower project in mid-May with a formal dedication ceremony.
The 7-MW plant, which formerly included the 105-year old “old” Badger and 85-year old “new” Badger, was combined into a single two-unit plant that has more capacity than the previous two plants combined.
The Boldt Company was the general contractor for the project, responsible for overseeing many of the major works associated with the upgrade. The Wisconsin-based company also helped coordinate with the utility, area residents and an adjacent school to maintain safety around the project site.
Voith Hydro supplied two Kaplan turbines, automation equipment and speed increasers. Kaukauna’s retrofitting of the Badger plant reflects a growing trend within America’s hydropower industry, Voith Hydro said, with an emphasis on upgrading existing facilities and adding capacity to non- powered infrastructure.