Industry News

Brookfield launches upgrades, advances redevelopment plans

Brookfield Power is renovating four hydro plants on the Lower Raquette River in New York. In addition, the company is preparing to redevelop, upgrade, or rehabilitate three other projects in New York and West Virginia.

Brookfield reports work has begun on the four Lower Raquette River plants, including equipment upgrades and replacements. Brookfield is investing $12.3 million in the four plants.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the upgrades in a license amendment for the 18-MW Lower Raquette River project. A total of 3.4 MW of incremental capacity will be added to four developments: East Norfolk, Norfolk, Norwood, and Raymondville. With the upgrades, the plants are expected to provide 24,912 megawatt-hours of additional generation.

Brookfield also plans to add a new unit, featuring a “fish friendly” advanced turbine, that would add 11 MW to the 38.8-MW School Street project, on the Mohawk River in upstate New York. FERC approved that plan in February, in a 40-year relicense to Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P., a unit of Brookfield Power.

The relicense provides Erie Boulevard the opportunity to install and operate an advanced turbine-generator in a new powerhouse or in an addition to be built within five years. The order authorizes construction to begin within two years.

School Street figures in a request by the Electric Power Research Institute for $500,000 from the hydro industry to help complete development, deployment, and testing of an advanced turbine-generator. EPRI proposed that a unit designed by Alden Research Laboratory and Concepts NREC be deployed and tested at School Street. (See “R&D Forum,” Hydro Review, March 2007.)

In West Virginia, Brookfield plans to redevelop and commission its out-of-service 5.45-MW Glen Ferris plant and address concrete spalling and deterioration of the spillway and gate piers at its 102-MW Hawks Nest facility.

Both plants are licensed by FERC as the 109-MW Hawks Nest-Glen Ferris project. Brookfield purchased the project from Alloy Power LLC in 2006.

Brookfield spokesperson Grace Pollock said that, while the company intends to complete work on both plants, details remained to be determined. She added authorization and construction could take as long as five years.

Enerfin supplies coolers for Grand Coulee units

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a contract worth nearly $4 million to Enerfin Inc. to replace coolers on 18 generators at 6,809-MW Grand Coulee Dam in Washington.

Enerfin, of St.-Hubert, Québec, is to manufacture and deliver the coolers over the next seven years, Reclamation said.

The coolers remove heat from air circulating inside generators of Grand Coulee’s Right and Left power plants.

Completed in 1942, Grand Coulee has 33 generators in three power plants, a pumping plant, and three switchyards.

Contract awarded for Grand Coulee barrier

In a separate announcement, Reclamation awarded a $545,000 contract to Metalite Industries Inc. of Spokane, Wash., to furnish and install a 6,500-foot safety barrier at Grand Coulee.

The new barrier will replace a log boom just upstream of Grand Coulee Dam that keeps boats at a safe distance from project facilities.

The new boom will consist of a series of 20-foot-long, foam-filled aluminum pontoons developed by Metalite.

Work should be completed by June, Reclamation said.

SMUD upgrades governors for Upper American River

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is upgrading digital and mechanical governors and turbine shutoff valve (TSV) controls for ten units in seven powerhouses in its 688-MW Upper American River hydro project.

The work includes refurbishment of governor and TSV controls and the supply of a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. Each governor and TSV is being provided with a programmable logic controller (PLC) for control automation and data acquisition. A SCADA system is being installed to interconnect each of the seven stations and the SMUD Hydro Headquarters in Pollock Pines, Calif.

SMUD chose to upgrade governors and valves due to a lack of spare parts for Woodward 501 and Mod II governors, control failures on existing TSV control systems, and a need to standardize project control systems. Additionally, it saw a need for system level data acquisition to aid in troubleshooting.

SMUD said the work should reduce spare parts inventories, reduce call-out times when field problems occur, and leverage training resources.

North American Hydro of Schofield, Wis., is providing equipment design, supply, manufacturing, installation engineering, site supervision, on-site start up, and training services. System 3 of Sacramento, the general contractor for the upgrade work, is responsible for installing the equipment.

The work involves one unit each at Jones Fork, Loon Lake, Robbs Peak, and Union Valley powerhouses, and two units each at Camino, Jaybird, and White Rock powerhouses. Most units have Francis-type turbines; units at Loon Lake and Jaybird feature six- needle Peltons.

Load rejection tests were completed Feb. 15 on Unit 2 of the Camino powerhouse, the first of the ten units featuring upgraded governor controls. The last of the upgraded controls is scheduled for commissioning in early 2010.

The American River project, on Rubicon River, Silver Creek, and the South Fork of the American River near Placerville, Calif., is undergoing relicensing. SMUD filed a settlement on behalf of itself and others in relicensing proceeding Feb. 1.

Brookfield Power expands hydro plant portfolio

Brookfield Power is expanding its hydropower plant portfolio, by investing in ownership of facilities in Minnesota and New York.

In Minnesota, Brookfield purchased a partial ownership interest in SAF Hydroelectric LLC, licensee for the proposed 8.98-MW Lower St. Anthony Falls plant in Minneapolis. Brookfield will provide construction financing and will be responsible for construction and eventual operation of the $30 million project, SAF said.

The new plant is being built at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock and dam on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Construction is scheduled to start in July. The project could be commissioned by the end of 2008.

The project license provides for installation of modular Matrix turbines, to be supplied by VA Tech Hydro, eliminating need for a powerhouse. VA Tech Hydro is engineering-procurement-construction contractor. Paul C. Rizzo Associates, the civil design contractor, produced drawings and plan specifications.

In addition to the investment in St. Anthony Falls, Brookfield acquired two hydroelectric plants totaling 6 MW in New York from Raquette Hydro Power Ltd. The plants, 3-MW Hewittville and 3-MW Unionville, are on the Raquette River. Power generated will be sold under a power purchase agreement to Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

Brookfield Chief Executive Officer Harry Goldgut said the newly acquired Raquette River plants fit well with the company’s portfolio in New York, which totals more than 800 MW of hydro capacity.

Congress again revives 15-MW Arrowrock project

Developers of 15-MW Arrowrock won another congressional reprieve and three more years to begin construction of the project at a Bureau of Reclamation dam on Idaho’s Boise River.

The Northwest congressional delegation successfully sponsored legislation to extend time for building the project. A bill signed by President Bush became law Dec. 13, 2006.

Congress approved the license extension over the objection of Director J. Mark Robinson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. Robinson had testified he opposed the bill, which reinstated the license and extended the construction deadline.

Robinson said he opposed extensions for projects that failed to make progress in more than 10 years. The Arrowrock project was licensed in 1989, but construction did not begin in the 16 years before FERC gave notice of probable license termination. Arrowrock twice won previous congressional approvals requiring FERC to grant extra time extensions, until 2005.

The new law requires FERC to extend the time required for starting construction of project works for a period ending Dec. 12, 2009.

The project is licensed to the Boise-Kuna, Nampa & Meridian, New York, Wilder, and Big Bend irrigation districts. The districts received approval to fund and develop the project at a special election in August 2005. Clatskanie People’s Utility District said it has contracted to purchase all project power, which it estimates will total 81,000 megawatt-hours per year.

While the project’s licensed installed capacity is 60 MW, the districts envision the project now will total 15 MW.

New NHA officers, board members named

The National Hydropower Association board elected officers for 2007, including a new president, Leslie Eden, president of HCI Publications. She succeeded NHA President David Youlen in March at the association’s annual conference in Washington.

Other new officers elected to one-year terms are: Vice President Timothy Brush, vice president of Normandeau Associates; Secretary Julie Keil, director of hydro licensing for Portland General Electric; and Treasurer Richard Miller, chief executive officer of Devine Tarbell and Associates.

Brush succeeds Sarah Verville, a lawyer in Pierce Atwood’s Environmental Practice Group. Keil succeeds Steve Wenke, chief generation engineer for Avista Corp. Miller succeeds Bruce Meaker, senior manager for regulatory affairs of Snohomish County Public Utility District.

NHA also announced its members elected new directors to three-year board terms: Janet Audunson of Hiscock and Barclay; John Dulude of Santee Cooper; David Moller of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.; Greg Lewis of Duke Energy; and Andrew Munro of Chelan County Public Utility District.

Returning NHA board members are: Verville; Eugene Allison of Georgia Power Co.; Nino Mascolo of Southern California Edison Co.; Jim Miller of Idaho Power Co.; Fred Springer of Troutman Sanders LLP; and Debbie Young of Tacoma Public Utilities.

In addition to the elected, voting board members, the board appointed five advisory members, all to one-year terms: John Claybrook of Phoenix Power Controls; Al Ryan of Exelon Generation LLC; Julie Smith-Galvin of ENEL North America; Randy Baysinger of Turlock Irrigation District; and Dave Moore of Troutman Sanders.

Youlen, vice president of New York Operations for Brookfield Power, continues to serve, as NHA past president.

At the annual conference, NHA acknowledged members leaving the board in 2007: Meaker; Wenke; Wayne Dyok of MWH; Greg Robinson of Duke Energy; and Angela Risdon of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Regional planning council re-elects chair, vice chair

Members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council re-elected Chair Tom Karier of Washington State and Vice Chair Joan Dukes of Oregon. Karier and Dukes will lead the four-state energy, and fish and wildlife planning agency for another year.

Karier was appointed to the planning council in 1998. Prior to that appointment, he served as an associate dean and a professor of economics at Eastern Washington University.

Dukes was appointed in 2005. She came to the council from the Oregon Legislature, where she was a senator.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Each state provides two members to the council.

The Northwest Power Act of 1980 directed the council to develop a plan to assure an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply while protecting, mitigating, and enhancing fish and wildlife affected by hydropower projects in the Columbia River Basin.

FERC certifies four projects for production tax credits

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified improvements to four hydroelectric projects for renewable energy production tax credits: 742-MW Clark Fork in Idaho and Montana; 512-MW Conowingo in Maryland and Pennsylvania; 13.3-MW Forks of Butte in California; and 2.4-MW Vergennes No. 9 in Vermont.

742-MW Clark Fork

FERC certified incremental hydropower generation from efficiency improvements at Avista Utilities’ Clark Fork project due to additional capacity that was to be placed on line by March 31.

FERC certified a historical generation baseline of 3,130 gigawatt-hours (GWh) for the project and generation with improvements totaling 3,147 GWh. That represents incremental generation of 17,040 megawatt-hours (MWh), a 0.54 percent increase due to improvements.

512-MW Conowingo

FERC granted a request by licensees Susquehanna Power Co. and PECO Energy Power Co. for certification of efficiency improvements at Conowingo. The licensees replaced the project’s Unit 5 runner and wicket gates, implemented a hydro monitoring and optimization system, and added capacity by replacing the runner and generator stator for Units 6 and 7.

Based on information from the licensees, FERC certified a historical generation baseline of 1,770 GWh and incremental generation from four improvements ranging from 0.14 percent for one improvement to 2.5 percent for another. Incremental generation from all improvements total 3.74 percent.

13.3-MW Forks of Butte

Licensee H&H Engineering Inc. requested certification for efficiency improvements at Forks of Butte, in Butte County, Calif. The licensee cited improvements from a new transformer installed in November 2005, and the use of an additional 25 cubic feet per second of water for a capacity increase authorized by the commission in 2003.

FERC issued an order certifying incremental generation of 1,850 MWh and setting the percentage of additional generation due to improvements at 4.87 percent. The project’s historical generation baseline is 38,000 MWh; generation following improvements totals 39,850 MWh.

2.4-MW Vergennes No. 9

In another order, FERC certified incremental generation from efficiency improvements made at Green Mountain Power Corp.’s Vergennes No. 9, on Otter Creek in Vermont. The licensee replaced two turbines with new turbines in 2005 and 2006.

One of the upgraded units at Vergennes was declared fully operational Feb. 1, 2006, while the other entered full operation Jan. 16. Based upon a review of information from Green Mountain Power, FERC issued an order Feb. 27 certifying incremental generation of 2,388 MWh against a historical generation baseline of 10,359 MWh. FERC said improvements made to the two units increased project generation by about 23 percent.

Alaska project earns LIHI certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has certified the 4.5-MW Black Bear Lake project on Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island as “low-impact” hydropower.

Black Bear Lake is the first hydropower facility in Alaska to earn LIHI certification and one of about two dozen nationally. Alaska Power and Telephone owns and operates Black Bear Lake 8.6 miles east of Klawock.

LIHI is a non-profit organization that certifies “low-impact” hydropower facilities nationwide to inform energy consumers and to support market incentives for reducing the effects of hydropower projects on U.S. rivers and streams.

To become certified, an applicant must demonstrate its project meets criteria addressing: river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural resources, recreation use and access, and whether the dam is recommended for removal.

Unifin acquires General Electric companies

Unifin, a supplier of cooling equipment and transformer oil pumps and valves to the power generation and power transformer industries, acquired two General Electric companies, GE Heat Transfer and GE Harley.

Unifin International, which is headquartered in Ontario, announced completion of the purchase in January. Unifin, part of the Koch Industries Group, said both GE companies became part of Unifin’s Cardinal Pumps & Exchangers Division.

GE Heat Transfer of Chesapeake, Va., supplied generator cooler products to GE and utilities in North America. Production of generator hydrogen, air, and lube oil coolers will continue in Virginia, as will repair operations, Unifin said. Pump operations also are located in the U.S., in Ohio, former home of GE Harley and home to Cardinal Pumps & Exchangers.

U.S. hydro operator NE Energy becomes FirstLight Power

Hydropower operator NE Energy Inc. changed its name to FirstLight Power Resources Inc.

In addition to the new name, FirstLight planned to relocate its corporate headquarters to downtown Hartford, Conn., from Rocky Hill. The company owns 13 hydroelectric plants totaling about 1,276 MW and other power plants, all in either Connecticut or Massachusetts.

FirstLight President Curt Morgan said the new name builds on the company’s deep roots in low-cost, reliable generation. The company’s hydroelectric plants and 146-MW coal-fired baseload facility provide the first source of power to customers connected to the electric grid, Morgan added.

FirstLight operates 11 conventional hydro stations on the Shetucket and Housatonic rivers in Connecticut and on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts totaling about 167 MW. It also operates the 1,080-MW Northfield Mountain pumped-storage plant in Northfield, Mass., and the 29-MW Rocky River pumped-storage plant in New Milford, Conn.

The power plants previously were owned by Northeast Utilities. Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm, purchased Northeast Utilities’ competitive generation business in November 2006, including assets totaling 1,442 MW, for $1.34 billion. At that time, Energy Capital Partners provisionally named the newly formed company NE Energy Inc.

The company has about 235 employees, of which about 70 will be based in the new offices.

Busak+Shamban now known as Trelleborg Sealing Solutions

Busak+Shamban is changing its name to Trelleborg Sealing Solutions. Busak+Shamban is the sales and marketing division of Trelleborg. Trelleborg provides sealing and polymer products to the hydro industry.

The parent company of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, Trelleborg AB, acquired Busak+Shamban, from Smiths in 2003. Busak+Shamban continued to operate under its original name.

The name change supports Trelleborg Sealing Solutions’ consolidated brand strategy, the company said.

U.S. awards $8.9 million to remove Chiloquin Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded an $8.9 million contract to remove Chiloquin Dam, with a goal of reopening 80 miles of fish spawning habitat on southern Oregon’s Sprague River.

Reclamation, in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, awarded the contract to Slayden Construction Group Inc. of Stayton, Ore. It includes construction of a pumping plant on the Williamson River to provide an alternate means for delivering water to the dam owner, Modoc Point Irrigation District.

The U.S. Indian Service built Chiloquin Dam in 1914 at a site 30 miles north of Klamath Falls to divert water to the Klamath Indian Reservation. Ownership of the 11-foot-tall, 220-foot-long dam was transferred to the irrigation district in 1973.

The pumping plant is to be constructed from July to December 2007, and the dam removed from July 2008 to December 2008, Reclamation said.

Reclamation called the award a major step toward recovering endangered fish in the Klamath Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) also called the action noteworthy.

“Restoring access to this habitat on a tributary above Upper Klamath Lake will enable the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers to migrate upstream to historical spawning areas in the Sprague River watershed,” Steve Thompson, manager of FWS’ California-Nevada Operations Office, said. “This is a significant step in helping to restore the traditional fishery for the Klamath Indian Tribes, which have reserved fishing rights in the area.”

N.Y. projects produce record hydro generation in 2006

The hydropower projects of New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) generated their highest amounts in 20 years and 15 years in 2006, thanks to storm-driven river volumes and strategic plant investments.

The two utility subsidiaries of Energy East Corp. said Jan. 17 that record precipitation in New York in 2006 increased the volume of water in rivers, boosting hydro generation accordingly.

NYSEG said its 38.91-MW Saranac River plants High Falls, Cadyville, Mill C, and Kents Falls; its 2.64-MW Rainbow Falls plant on the Ausable River; and 17.4-MW Upper Mechanicville plant on the Hudson River produced more than 360 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2006. That is a 10 percent increase over 2005, and represents the most electricity produced at the plants in more than 20 years.

RG&E’s three hydro plants on the Genesee River produced 260 GWh in 2006, a 21 percent increase over 2005, and the most electricity produced at those plants in nearly 15 years. The projects are 6.5-MW Station No. 2, 43.74-MW Station No. 5, and 3-MW Station No. 26.

The companies said electricity generated at their hydro plants in 2006 benefited the environment by avoiding nearly 408,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 2,100 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 570 tons of nitrogen oxides emissions. The CO2 emissions avoided are the equivalent of planting 55 million trees, or avoiding more than 700 million miles of automobile use.

To ensure optimal performance, the companies said they would continue to invest in equipment upgrades at the plants.

“We are committed to doing all that we can to protect the environment, and our investment in our hydroelectric generating stations is a testament to that commitment,” NYSEG and RG&E President Jim Laurito said. “We are proud of these plants and the people who maintain and operate them, and we will continue to focus on maximizing the output of these environmentally friendly plants.”

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