Industry News

BPA rate hike plan cites fish, hydro costs

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) proposes its first wholesale power rate increase since 2003, citing increased costs including the expense of salmon mitigation and of operating and maintaining its hydropower system.

The federal power marketer sells more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power from 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities.

BPA said it anticipates filing a final rate proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about Aug. 1. It said it likely would need the increase beginning in October. If adopted, it would result in an average increase of 7 to 8 percent for BPA’s public utility customers for the period beginning Oct. 1.

BPA cited four primary reasons for the rate increase:

    – A substantial increase in funding for projects to boost protection and survival of Columbia Basin salmon developed through a regional collaborative effort responding to court orders;
    – Increased costs for operating and maintaining the hydro system to maintain and improve reliability and output;
    – Increased costs for operating the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant; and
    – Reduced prices for BPA’s surplus power in western markets due to the economic downturn.

BPA said its rate proposal also includes infrastructure investments. However it said planned capital investments will have minimal rate effects because the costs are financed and recovered over time.

Capital investments in the hydropower system are intended to maintain and improve reliability and output. Increased capital investments also are planned to implement the newly signed Columbia Basin Fish Accords with participating states and tribes.

Quincy, Ill., advances three hydro projects

The city of Quincy, Ill., plans to develop three hydroelectric projects totaling 50 MW at locks and dams on the Mississippi River.

Proposed for Corps of Engineers dams, the projects are: 20-MW Mississippi Lock & Dam No. 20, 15-MW Mississippi Lock & Dam No. 21, and 15-MW Mississippi Lock & Dam No. 22.

With the assistance of Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., the city secured $475,750 in federal funds in an omnibus appropriations bill signed by President Obama in March 2009. The funds are to help meet costs associated with obtaining licenses to build and operate the projects.

Quincy submitted notices of its intent to file federal hydro license applications for the projects in June 2008.

Pennsylvania utility to revive 125-MW Holtwood Expansion

PPL Corp. announced it will apply to revive the 125-MW Holtwood Expansion hydroelectric project, saying incentives in the federal government’s economic stimulus package could once again make the Pennsylvania project economically feasible.

PPL canceled plans to develop the $440 million Holtwood Expansion due to unfavorable economic conditions in December 2008. At that time, PPL withdrew an application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effectively canceling what was then an 88.3-MW addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood hydroelectric project on the Susquehanna River.

PPL originally sought an amendment to the Holtwood project license to increase installed capacity and to extend its current license term for 16 years, through Aug. 31, 2030. The existing Holtwood license is to expire Sept. 1, 2014.

“PPL has reconsidered this project in view of the tax incentives and potential loan guarantees for renewable energy projects that are in the federal economic stimulus package,” PPL Executive Vice President William Spence said. “These stimulus package benefits could make the project feasible again by more than offsetting the factors that caused us to withdraw our original application…”

Subject to approval by FERC and other government agencies, availability of stimulus package incentives, and negotiation of related contracts, PPL said construction could start in February 2010 and be complete by spring 2013.

Colorado lends $1.45 million for Cortez hydro

The Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority approved a $1.45 million loan to the city of Cortez for the 240-kW Cortez Micro Hydroelectric Project. The 20-year loan has an interest rate of 2 percent.

The Colorado city plans to install one 240-kW hydropower unit on its water conveyance system in Montezuma County. The city anticipates it would generate an average of 1,400 megawatt-hours annually, which would be sold to a utility.

Cortez filed for a conduit exemption from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project.

Colorado grants $150,000 to ten small hydros
The water and power authority awarded matching grants totaling $150,000 for evaluation and development of ten small hydropower projects. It had invited grant applications for feasibility studies, permitting activities, or final design of potential hydropower projects.

The authority’s board approved applications, which sought $15,000 each, primarily for studies of adding hydropower generation to existing municipal water facilities. Grant recipients, who must provide matching funds, are: cities of Aspen, Fort Collins, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, and Thornton; Colorado River Water Conservation District; Parker Water and Sanitation District; San Luis Valley Irrigation District; Summit County; and Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.

Corps overhauls Emsworth Locks and Dams

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is spending an estimated $165 million to rehabilitate Emsworth Locks and Dams, on the Ohio River immediately downstream of Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Corps says the Emsworth Dams Major Rehabilitation Project is necessary to ensure reliable navigation on the upper Ohio. Built in 1938, the dams have the oldest structural components of any project on the Ohio River.

The Corps awarded a $54.1 million contract to prime contractor Joseph B. Fay Co., Tarentum, Pa., for rehabilitation of the project’s Main Channel Dam. Eaton Corp., Eden Prairie, Minn., a subcontractor, is supplying and installing hydraulic systems to replace seven of Main Channel Dam’s eight lift gates and gate operating machinery.

Eaton said it would begin supplying components in the third quarter of 2009, with anticipated completion of that work in 2011.

The Corps says it expects to finish the Emsworth rehabilitation by September 2014.

Although Emsworth does not include a hydroelectric component, BPUS Generation Development LLC holds preliminary permits to study two hydro plants at the site: Emsworth Back Channel Dam and Emsworth Lock & Dam. If a hydro plant is deemed feasible, it could take a developer five or more years to begin construction, Corps Project Manager Mike Rattay said.

NHA honors Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters

During a hydropower rally at the U.S. Capitol, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) honored four hydropower producers from across North America as the 2009 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters.

Gathered in the House Natural Resources Committee meeting room May 11, NHA named as winners the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Yuba County (Calif.) Water Agency, and TransCanada. The four hydro producers were recognized for developing groundbreaking, collaborative projects that expand the U.S. hydropower industry’s work in providing clean, affordable, domestic energy.

The first three winners were recognized in the category of recreational, environmental, and historical enhancement:

    – NYPA for creation of lake sturgeon spawning beds at its 912-MW St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt project in New York;
    – PSE for construction of a salmon and steelhead floating surface collector at its 170.03-MW Baker River project in Washington; and
    – Yuba County for its Lower Yuba River Accord that addresses key economic and environmental priorities in the area of its four hydro projects on the Yuba: 315-MW New Colgate, 47-MW Narrows 2, 2-MW Deadwood Creek, and 150-kW Fish Release.

The fourth award went to TransCanada in the public education category for TransCanada’s video of its rehabilitation of the 100-year-old 32.4-MW Vernon Station on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Hydro eligible for Power Engineering Project of the Year

Hydropower, hydrokinetic, and ocean energy projects are among renewable energy projects eligible for Power Engineering magazine’s Projects of the Year 2009 awards program. The deadline for entries is Aug. 28.

Power Engineering invites entries from renewables projects worldwide for the awards program. The program honors excellence in design, construction, and engineering of power generation facilities. The contest will make awards in up to four categories: best renewable project, best coal-fired project, best gas-fired project, and best nuclear project.

The editors of Power Engineering are to judge the entries. Winning projects will receive editorial recognition in Power Engineering. Awards will be presented at POWER-GEN International 2009, Dec. 8-10, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Each project may recognize up to five suppliers or contractors, including the nominating company if not the project owner, instrumental in the project’s success.

Nominated projects must have begun service between Aug. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009. Project entries must represent new power plants or innovative projects at existing facilities. Eligible projects include: new power plants; retrofit projects; re-powering projects; innovative use of technology; equipment upgrades; innovative diagnostic analysis and maintenance programs; and unique construction management and plant design programs.

Entries are due Aug. 28 to Nancy Spring, Power Engineering, PennWell Corp., 1421 S. Sheridan Road, Tulsa, OK 74112. Forms can be submitted on line at For information, contact Nancy Spring, Senior Editor, Power Engineering, (1) 918-831-9492; E-mail:

Employees take ownership of Schweitzer Engineering

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. (SEL) announced it has become a company completely owned by its employees.

SEL employs 1,800 people worldwide and supports products in 126 countries. The company, founded by President and Chief Executive Officer Edmund Schweitzer III in 1984, is headquartered in Pullman, Wash.

Employees previously held a partial stake in the privately held company, which announced the transition to a 100 percent employee-owned structure at the end of March.

SEL serves the electric power industry worldwide through the design, manufacture, supply, and support of products and services for power system protection, monitoring, control, automation, and metering.

New York student wins 2009 NHA Past Presidents’ scholarship

Erika Hanley, 2009 graduate in Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College in New York, received a $2,000 Past Presidents’ Legacy scholarship from the National Hydropower Association (NHA). In the fall of 2009, Hanley begins engineering graduate studies at the Colorado School of Mines. The award was presented to Hanley at the NHA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

This is the second award of the Past Presidents’ scholarship program, established in 2008. The program aims to encourage students to consider careers in hydropower. The program grew from the vision of NHA past president George Martin, who saw this as a way to attract students and young professionals to hydro-related fields. These include the areas of new and emerging hydropower engineering technologies; earth sciences; environmental resource management and regulation; land, reservoir, and shoreline management; public policy; and stakeholder collaboration.

Click here to enlarge image

Organizations and individuals who support the goals of this program are invited to consider making a gift. Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the scholarship program administrator, the non-profit organization Scholarship America. Make checks payable to Scholarship America – NHA Past Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship Program and mail with a brief transmittal letter to: Pat Halter, Scholarship America, One Scholarship Way, St. Peter, MN 56082. Contact: (1) 507-931-0437; E-mail:

3Degrees, Dominion Virginia Power offer renewables program

Renewable energy marketing company 3Degrees Inc. is working with utility Dominion Virginia Power to offer a new renewable energy pricing program, Dominion Green Power.

Dominion Green Power lets Virginia electricity customers buy renewable energy to match 100 percent of their usage at 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) above the standard rate, paying on average an additional $15 per month. It also offers a second option, allowing customers to buy certificates in fixed $2 increments representing 133 kWh of renewable energy certificates each.

3Degrees helped design and launch the program, rolling out a consumer education campaign to enroll customers. More than 2.2 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Virginia are eligible for the voluntary program.

3Degrees provides Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy certificates to meet program demand. On behalf of program participants, Dominion purchases the certificates, which originate from newly built renewable energy facilities in the Midwest and Southeast.

Dominion expects hydropower will be part of the mix of renewable energy associated with the program, Jim Browder, a Green Power Program manager, said. Certificates associated with hydropower and purchased for the program are expected to meet Green-e certification requirements.

Green-e standards include new hydropower capacity if one of three conditions is met:

    – The facility is certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute;
    – The facility is run-of-river with a capacity of 5 MW or less; or
    – The facility consists of a turbine in a pipeline or irrigation canal.

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