Industry News

Corps completes agreement to advance 92-MW Price Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agrees to allow hydropower developer Price Dam Partnership Ltd. to proceed with detailed investigation design, and, if feasible, construction of a 92-MW hydro plant at Melvin Price Locks and Dam on the Mississippi River near Alton, Ill.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) required the developer to work with the Corps to coordinate access and construction activities, while protecting federal operations and activities, primarily in support of Mississippi River navigation.

The agreement outlines terms and conditions under which studies and construction activities may occur. It also provides for a small amount of electricity from the project to be supplied to the Corps lock and dam at no cost.

The project design, as described in the FERC license, calls for the use of 192 modular Hydromatrix turbine-generators, placed in the existing dam’s six gate slots. Each set of modular units would be designed for easy lifting to reduce damage during floods, to allow unit repair, and to permit the Corps to meet flood and navigation responsibilities.

However, licensee spokesman James Price said Price Dam Partnership would review whether to proceed with plans to use Hydromatrix turbines, or to switch to conventional turbines. He said previous cost estimates of $100 million to $150 million must be updated before a decision is made on how to approach construction. Price added that the licensee still must secure a power purchaser.

FERC issued a license for the project in 2005. At that time, it set July 28, 2007, as the date construction must begin. However, the licensee can petition FERC to extend the construction start date.

Utility to invest $20 million in New York plants

Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. (RG&E) announced it plans to invest more than $20 million over the next three years in its 6.5-MW Station 2 and 43.74-MW Station 5 hydroelectric plants on New York’s Genesee River.

RG&E said the investment would enable it to add a total of 9 MW of generating capacity at the two plants.

“This planned investment in our hydroelectric generating stations is a testament to our commitment to the environment and renewable sources of energy,” RG&E President Jim Laurito said. “Optimizing the output of these plants is also an important step in diversifying the fuel mix for generating electricity.”

Most of the work is planned for Station 2 at High Falls. The utility plans to double the size and capacity of the 6.5-MW facility to about 13 MW by 2009. In addition, RG&E said it plans to rewind the existing generator in 2008 to make it more efficient, netting 1 MW of additional capacity.

RG&E also plans to rewind a generator and complete related work at Station 5 at Middle/Lower Falls. The work will add about 1.5 MW of generating capacity at that plant.

Additional generation at the projects will enable the company to offset generation from fossil-fuel sources. Each year, the additional generating capacity will avoid the emission of nearly 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 60 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 20 tons of nitrogen oxides from fossil-fuel sources, RG&E said.

RG&E has a third project on the Genesee River, 3-MW Station No. 26. Earlier this year, RG&E and its sister company, New York State Electric & Gas, reported their hydro plants generated their highest amounts in 20 years and 15 years, thanks to storm-driven river volumes in 2006 and strategic plant investments. To ensure optimal performance, the Energy East Corp. subsidiaries said they would continue to invest in equipment upgrades.

U.S. awards $5.3 million runner contract for J.F. Carr

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $5.3 million contract to VA Tech Hydro USA Corp. to replace runners of two 85-MW turbines at the 154.4-MW J.F. Carr power plant, on the Sacramento River in Shasta County, Calif.

The contractor, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., was selected in a call for proposals. The government awarded the contract at the end of March.

VA Tech Hydro USA is to design, build, and deliver two stainless steel runners, each 11 feet in diameter. It also will build and deliver other key parts, and pay for the services of an engineer.

The contract provides an option for the contractor to inspect the turbines to determine if wicket gates need replacement or refurbishment. If replacement is indicated, VA Tech Hydro will deliver and install new gates. Otherwise, the gates will be removed and refurbished.

The entire program is to take two years to complete. About a year will be needed to disassemble each unit, install the new turbine runner, and inspect the wicket gates. The first of the two units is tentatively scheduled to be disassembled beginning in September 2009; and it is to be returned to service by August 2010.

The second unit will be disassembled starting in September 2010, and will be back in service by August 2011.

Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson said the replacement of the runners is a key element in ensuring the critical hydropower production of the federal Central Valley Project. The units at J.F. Carr began commercial operation in 1963. J.F. Carr is one of 11 power plants in the 1,844-MW Central Valley Project.

U.S. awards $1.9 million for fish counting

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $1.9 million contract to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to count fish at eight mainstem hydro projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

Fish counters provided by the department are to identify and count adult fish, either by direct visual or by video, as the fish pass through fish ladder counting stations.

Dams include 1,092.9-MW Bonneville, 1,807-MW Dalles, 2,160-MW John Day, 980-MW McNary, 603-MW Ice Harbor, 810-MW Lower Monumental, 810-MW Little Goose, and 810-MW Lower Granite in the Corps’ Portland and Walla Walla districts.

The Corps chose the Department of Fish and Wildlife after reviewing proposals submitted in response to a solicitation. The contract includes one base year, from March 1, 2007, through Feb. 29, 2008, and could include as many as four optional years.

N.H. hydro project certified for incremental generation

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified incremental hydropower generation from efficiency improvements at the 15-MW J. Brodie Smith project in New Hampshire, making the project eligible for renewable energy production tax credits.

Licensee Public Service Co. of New Hampshire filed the request for certification based on efficiency improvements gained from replacing a turbine with a new, more efficient unit at the project. The new turbine went on line Nov. 27, 2006, on the Androscoggin River in Coos County, N.H.

FERC certified incremental generation of 8,697.83 megawatt-hours (MWh) on March 22, based on its review of information provided by the licensee. It arrived at that number by subtracting the historical generation baseline of 105,991.37 MWh from 114,689.20 MWh, the figure for generation with improvements. FERC said the percentage of generation from improvements was 8.21 percent.

Earlier this year, FERC certified improvements at 512-MW Conowingo in Maryland and Pennsylvania, 742-MW Clark Fork in Idaho and Montana, and 2.4-MW Vergennes No. 9 in Vermont for renewable energy production tax credits. It also has certified incremental hydropower generation for the 13.3-MW Forks of Butte project in Butte County, Calif.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 applies a tax credit to incremental production gains from efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydroelectric facilities placed into service after Aug. 8, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2009. The act requires FERC to certify historic average annual hydropower production and percentage of average annual hydropower production at a facility attributable to the efficiency improvements or additions to capacity.

New York chooses ten hydros to help meet renewables goal

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Public Service Commission selected ten hydroelectric projects owned by Brookfield Power to help the state meet goals of New York’s Renewables Portfolio Standard Program.

In addition to the ten hydro facilities, which have been or will be upgraded, the state awarded contracts April 19 for nine new wind and two biomass facilities. The 21 contract awards total $295 million and will be paid out over ten years as performance incentives. The facilities are to generate and deliver electricity to the New York grid. Incentives will average about $15 per megawatt-hour (MWh).

The hydroelectric plants are: Allens Falls, in the 6.8-MW West Branch St. Regis River project; Browns Falls, in 29.48-MW Oswegatchie River; Colton and Higley, both in 48.323-MW Middle Raquette River; Eagle, in 44.8-MW Beaver River; East Fork, Norwood, Norfolk, and Raymondville, all in 18-MW Lower Raquette River Hydro; and Oswego Falls West, in 7.46-MW Oswego Falls. Payments will reflect incremental capacity resulting from improvements at the plants.

NYSERDA said it considered proposals from owners of 34 power plants who responded to a solicitation issued under a state renewables portfolio standard program adopted in 2004. The program requires utilities to increase their purchases of renewable energy to at least 25 percent of their total generation portfolios by 2013.

The 21 facilities selected represent 880 MW of in-state renewable capacity that would produce about 2.6 million MWh annually, enough to supply 435,000 average-sized homes. Project developers will invest an estimated $1.4 billion to construct and upgrade the facilities. Upgrades of existing hydro and biomass facilities and construction of new wind facilities are expected to be completed by fall 2008.

Four more U.S. projects earn ‘low-impact’ certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) announced it has certified four projects in Oregon, Kentucky, Alaska, and Pennsylvania as “low-impact” hydropower.

The largest project is three-plant, 366.82-MW Pelton Round Butte in Oregon, owned by Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. It is the second largest project ever designated by LIHI, which so far has certified more than two dozen facilities that demonstrate minimal effects on fish and wildlife. Seattle City Light’s 690-MW Skagit project in Washington became the largest project ever certified, in 2003.

LIHI certified Pelton Round Butte in March, based on an array of environmental protection measures, including a new fish passage system that is to be under construction this fall. The project is located on Oregon’s Deschutes, Crooked, and Metolius rivers.

LIHI certified two other low-impact projects in March: 2.04-MW Mother Ann Lee in Kentucky, and 4-MW Goat Lake in Alaska. In January, it certified 21-MW Raystown in Pennsylvania.

Accepting the National Hydropower Association’s 2007 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters awards are, from left: Steve Schoenwiesner, New York Power Authority; Jeff Lineberger, Duke Energy; Flinda Hill, Southern Co.; and John Whittaker, accepting for Avista Utilities. (Photo by Herman Farrer) Click here to enlarge image

The four projects are among 26 certified facilities that have a total installed capacity of about 1,917 MW.

Lock 7 Hydro Partners is the licensee of Mother Ann Lee, at Lock and Dam 7 on the Kentucky River. Goat Lake is the second project owned by Alaska Power and Telephone to earn certification; 4.5-MW Black Bear Lake on Prince of Wales Island was its first.

Allegheny Electric Cooperative owns and operates Raystown and the project’s William F. Matson generating station. The project is located at a Corps of Engineers dam on the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River in central Pennsylvania.

LIHI is a non-profit organization that certifies low-impact hydropower facilities nationwide. The program is voluntary, and is designed to help consumers identify environmentally sound, low-impact facilities for emerging green energy markets.

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

Akridge accepts Henwood award from NHA

Mike Akridge, general manager of Southern Co., is recipient of the 2007 Kenneth Henwood award, the highest honor the National Hydropower Association (NHA) confers upon an individual member.

The award recognizes individual leadership and dedication to hydropower as an energy technology. It was presented at NHA’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., in March.

Akridge has provided leadership and general management for Southern Co.’s Alabama Power and Georgia Power hydroelectric facilities, including activities related to operation, maintenance, and safety. He previously managed hydropower licensing for Southern Co.

Akridge is a former NHA president. He is a member of the U.S. Society on Dams and the Edison Electric Institute’s Hydro Issues Group.

NHA names Stewards of America’s Waters

Four utilities received the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) 2007 “Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters” award. The award recognizes development of a project or program that demonstrates best practices in recreational and environmental enhancement or in operational excellence, the association says.

Three of the utilities – Avista, New York Power Authority, and Southern Co. – received the award for recreational and environmental enhancement.

As part of river restoration activities at its 742-MW Clark Fork hydroelectric project in Idaho, Avista Utilities is protecting fisheries in Lake Pend Oreille by working with stakeholders to reduce predatory species.

New York Power Authority developed an upstream passage and delivery facility for American eel at its 912-MW St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt hydroelectric project.

Southern Co. removed more than 30 tons of debris from rivers in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina as part of its “2006 Renew Our Rivers: A New Beginning” program.

Mike Akridge of Southern Co. (left) received the 2007 Kenneth Henwood Award from John Devine, chairman of the selection committee. The award is the highest honor the National Hydropower Association bestows upon an individual member. (Photo by Herman Farrer) Click here to enlarge image

The fourth utility, Duke Energy, received the outstanding steward award for operational excellence. As part of its efforts to improve management of the 11-reservoir Catawba system in the Carolinas, Duke worked with a stakeholder team to develop a computer model for identifying an operations scenario that will provide the best balance for all water uses.

The stakeholders also developed a low-inflow protocol for how to operate the project in drought conditions so that all entities with interests in water usage share the effects. Duke reports the protocol already has been put into practice.

Industry and environmental experts chose the winners, based on project or program challenge, innovation, results, and collaboration with stakeholders.

Details are available on the Internet at

NHA honored the four winners during its annual conference in March.

NHA merged its previous Hydro Achievement and Outstanding Stewardship of America’s Rivers awards programs into the new Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters awards program. It said it made the change to more effectively promote recognition and to reflect the changing nature of the hydropower industry.

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