Hydro Currents

FERC counsel comments on marine, hydrokinetic bill

A lawyer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commented to a Senate panel on a marine hydrokinetic (MHK) bill. John Katz, FERC deputy associate general counsel for energy projects, testified to the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee on the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013 (S.1419), which was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

The bill reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Energy’s national marine renewable energy research, development and demonstration centers. It expands the program by adding: support of in-water testing and demonstration of MHK technologies; technology development assistance; and establishment of testing infrastructure. It also directs the Secretary of Energy to consult with the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce departments and with FERC on a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application to expand MHK energy.

Katz told the subcommittee Feb. 27 that FERC staff is prepared to assist the energy secretary as appropriate. Katz said establishment of national MHK R&D and demonstration centers could provide important support to develop the technology but suggested they should be owned by DOE. Centers owned by private entities, states or municipalities likely would require FERC licensing, he said.

The FERC lawyer also noted the bill would authorize FERC to issue pilot MHK project licenses under specific criteria. Katz said the commission has issued pilot project licenses under the assumption it has authority to do so under the Federal Power Act.

Connor named Interior deputy secretary, Pimley acting Reclamation commissioner

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the appointment of Michael L. Connor as the next deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Connor is the agency’s second-highest ranking official after Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior.

“Mike is exactly the right person to help lead this department – thoughtful, smart, organized and full of energy,” Jewell said. “His wealth of knowledge, experience and collaborative approach to complex challenges will be of great benefit to me and to this department.”

Connor has served as commissioner of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation since May 2009, where he oversaw 476 dams, 337 reservoirs and 58 power plants. During his tenure, the bureau has added more than 100 MW of new hydroelectric capacity at existing Reclamation facilities, identified an additional 370 MW, and restored thousands of miles of riparian habitat.

Before coming to Reclamation, Connor served as legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and assisted with Native American issues under the committee’s jurisdiction. Connor worked for Interior from 1993 to 2001 in the Solicitor’s Office and as director of the Indian Water Rights Office.

Connor replaces David J. Hayes, who announced his resignation last June after a four-year tenure.

Jewell also has appointed Lowell Pimley as Reclamation’s acting commissioner, filling in for Connor. Pimley will serve until a new commissioner is nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Pimley has served as Reclamation’s deputy commissioner of operations since January 2013. Before that, he was director of Reclamation’s Technical Service Center in Denver. Pimley joined Reclamation in 1980 as a civil engineer.

In-conduit hydro bill awaits governor’s signature

Legislation recognizing in-conduit hydroelectric power has been approved by Washington’s state Senate. Sponsored by Reps. Larry Haler and Chad Magendanz, House Bill 2733 would allow the state to count eligible hydropower as “renewable” under the state’s 2006 Energy Independence Act.

Per the bill, “eligible renewable resources” include:

– Incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements completed after March 31, 1999, to hydroelectric generation projects owned by a qualifying utility and located in the Pacific Northwest or to hydroelectric generation in irrigation pipes and canals located in the Pacific Northwest, where the additional generation in either case does not result in new water diversions or impoundments.

– That portion of incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements completed after March 31, 1999, attributable to a qualifying utility’s share of the electricity output to hydroelectric generation projects whose energy output is marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration where the additional generation does not result in new water diversions or impoundments.

The bill – which would also count wave, ocean and tidal power as “renewable” – passed the Senate with a 39-10 vote after having passed 89-8 in the House on Feb. 17. It now awaits a signature from Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

World Bank’s van Ginneken to keynote HydroVision International

Meike van Ginneken of the World Bank will participate as a keynote speaker at the upcoming HydroVision International conference and exhibition in Nashville, Tenn.

Van Ginneken is the World Bank’s sector manager for energy in west and central Africa, leading a team dedicated to improving access and quality of energy services in 26 countries.

The World Bank’s Africa energy program covers both reform and investment support in power generation, transmission and distribution; rural energy services; and renewable and low-carbon initiatives. The organization said it is focused on developing private financing for Africa’s energy sector, often working in partnership with other World Bank Group agencies. The bank’s current Africa energy portfolio comprises more than 50 projects with a value of US$10 billion, with new lending now exceeding $1 billion per year.

Van Ginneken is expected to not only reassert the World Bank’s support for hydropower, but also speak on a number of issues important to both power developers and power beneficiaries – including energy’s role in developing countries; changes and trends; financing; and technical, physical, social, environmental and fiscal sustainability.

Van Ginneken holds a Masters of Science in water management, environmental, and sanitary engineering from the School of Civil Engineering, Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands and an Executive Masters in consulting and coaching for change from HEC Paris and the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

HydroVision International takes place July 22-25 at Nashville’s Music City Center. For more, visit www.hydroevent.com.

Court dismisses claim over Cushman project

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed a damages action brought by the Skokomish Indian Tribe and individual members of the tribe, deriving from the construction and operation of the 131-MW Cushman project. The project is located upstream from the tribe’s reservation in Washington State.

The plaintiffs alleged that the federal government failed to protect their interests with respect to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing and operation of the project, which is owned and operated by the city of Tacoma, thereby violating its obligations arising under a treaty and various statues. They also said the defendant’s actions effectuated a temporary takings under the Fifth Amendment. On March 11, the court granted a federal government motion to dismiss.

In August 2006, in City of Tacoma v. FERC, the court held that FERC was required to include the Section 4(e) conditions issued by the Secretary of the Interior in Tacoma’s new license. Notwithstanding, Tacoma was allowed to continue to operate the project under the terms and conditions of its 1924 license, without conditions for the protection of the Skokomish Reservation, until July 2010, when FERC issued a final amended license order.

In October 2011, following the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ appeal in the Ninth Circuit, the clerk docketed this case. In April 2012, the defendant filed its motion to dismiss. The parties participated in several alternative dispute resolution sessions, but when a settlement did not materialize, a schedule for briefing the motion to dismiss was issued. Briefing and argument on that motion were completed, resulting in the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.

This article was originally published on GenerationHub.com, a HydroWorld.com sister site.

Hydro Ottawa to expand Chaudiere Falls project

Hydro Ottawa has been awarded a 40-year power purchase agreement that will allow for a 29-MW expansion of the Chaudiere Falls plant. The agreement, authorized by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), will effectively double project capacity to 58 MW.

“This exciting expansion project will provide reliable, clean electricity for the province for years to come while contributing to sustainable energy production and job growth in Ottawa,” Hydro Ottawa President and Chief Executive Officer Bryce Conrad said.

Hydro Ottawa’s renewable energy subsidiary, Energy Ottawa, applied for the contract under OPA’s Hydro Electric Standard Offer Program Municipal Stream in November 2013. The company said it plans to begin construction of the expansion in 2015.

“Waterpower is a vital component of Ontario’s clean energy mix,” Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said. “The Chaudiere Falls facility will contribute to Ontario’s clean, modern and reliable electricity system while creating local jobs and increasing revenue for Hydro Ottawa.”

Obama to elevate FERC staffer Bay to chairmanship

President Obama has nominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Enforcement Director Norman C. Bay to be a FERC commissioner, with the intention to name Bay chairman once he is confirmed by the Senate. Bay would succeed FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff whose term expired in June 2013.

Obama appointed Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur acting FERC chairman in November in the wake of the withdrawal of Obama’s nomination of controversial Colorado consultant Ronald J. Binz to be a member, and chairman, of the commission.

Since July 2009, Bay has been director of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, responsible for protecting energy market consumers from fraud or market manipulation affecting FERC-regulated wholesale natural gas and electric markets. Before joining the commission, he was a law professor at the University of New Mexico, teaching criminal law, evidence and constitutional law.

From 2000 to 2001, Bay, a Democrat, was U.S. attorney for New Mexico. From 1989 to 2000, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia and in New Mexico. Prior to his Justice Department service, he was attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Adviser at the State Department. Bay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.

The candidate’s views on various areas of energy policy have not been publicized.

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