Industry News

Work begins on $22 million hydro project in Colorado

Work has officially begun on the first of two new hydroelectric sites near the Gunnison River in Colorado’s Uncompahgre Valley.

The 7.5-MW South Canal project – which consists of two powerhouses being developed jointly by the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association and Delta Montrose Energy Association – will have a total cost of about $22 million. The Bureau of Reclamation issued a temporary directive and standard for Lease of Power Privilege requirements and processes in April because the sites are on Reclamation land.

UVWUA and DMEA officials say they expect both plants to be operational by July 2013.

Also in Colorado, the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association officially opened its new 2.6-MW hydropower plant. The $6 million Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant, located on Carter Lake, will be owned and operated by developer Northern Water. Power generated by the facility will be sold to Poudre Valley REA under a long-term power-purchase agreement.

“This project shows that hydroelectric projects are feasible and economical,” said Anne Castle, assistant secretary of water and science with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Northern Water says the project was funded in part by a $2 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development fund.

Senate confirms nominations of Norris, Clark to FERC

The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominations of John Norris and Anthony Clark to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

By unanimous consent on May 24, the full Senate approved the nominations of Democrat Norris to a second FERC term and Republican Clark to a first term on the five-member utility regulator. The nominations were endorsed April 26 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Norris, a lawyer and state utility regulator from Iowa, was first named to the commission by President Barack Obama in 2009.

His initial term expired this year. Clark, who has served on the North Dakota Public Service Commission since 2001, was named to succeed Commissioner Marc Spitzer who left FERC in December.

Before his service at FERC, Norris was chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and former chief of staff to then-Iowa Gov.

Vilsack, a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, and chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board from 2005-2009.

Clark is former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, a former North Dakota labor commissioner, and a former state legislator.

Riverbank Power secures financing for two U.S. hydro plants

Canadian developer Riverbank Power Corporation has closed $38 million in financing for a pair of hydropower projects located in the U.S.

Riverbank says its 7.5-MW Dorena Lake project in Oregon will assume $26 million in non-recourse debt, while the 4.7-MW Clark Canyon plant in Montana will get the remainder in sub-debt financing.

The non-recourse debt was arranged by Travelers Capital Corporation and funded by Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc., while the $12 million lent to the Clark Canyon project was provided by the Infrastructure Coalition Program.

Both facilities are expected to be commissioned in 2013 and are intended to help Riverbank expand its operation, says President and Chief Executive Officer John Douglas.

Free Flow Power nixes plans for five Mississippi River projects

Hydroelectric developer Free Flow Power is shelving plans that would create five hydroelectric plants on the Mississippi River between Red Wing, Minn., and Lynxville, Wis. The Boston-based company surrendered preliminary permits May 11 that would have allowed for the construction of plants at five existing locks and dams that would have had a capacity of 8 to 15 MW.

In an interview given to Wisconsin Public Radio, Free Flow Project Development Director Jon Guidroz says lower-than-estimated water flows and other “market forces” caused the company to reconsider. Guidroz also cited uncertainty surrounding renewable energy tax credits as a reason for dropping the projects. Free Flow Power has retained preliminary permits to several other locks and dams on the Mississippi River – including locations near Belleview, Clinton and Muscatine in Iowa, and Gladstone, Ill. – that would have capacities of 17 to 25 MW, making them more feasible, Guidroz says.

FERC approves Lake of the Ozarks boundary redraw

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a plan by hydro licensee Ameren to redraw the boundary of the 93-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri to end potential encroachment on project lands by some 4,000 private structures.

The action resolves months of citizen protests and complaints by Missouri’s congressional delegation about a July 26, 2011, FERC order approving the first shoreline management plan for the 85-year-old hydro project.

In November, FERC clarified the July order, declaring that nothing in its order affected any previously issued valid permit authorizing a non-project use of project lands or waters. The commission ordered Ameren to follow through with the utility’s proposal to revise the project boundary to remove from the project any lands that are not needed to operate it effectively.

FERC’s latest action, on June 5, approves a redrawing of the boundary line of the 230.75-MW Osage hydroelectric project on the Osage River. As a result, FERC says, all private residences and commercial structures at the Lake of the Ozarks will now be outside the project boundary.

The new boundary proposed by Ameren generally follows the 662 foot elevation, except in some upstream areas where it follows higher elevations. The 662 foot elevation was chosen because the area below that level is frequently inundated by the project.

The commission says no houses or structures now are within the project boundary. However, some “accessory structures,” such as gazebos, piers, and boat docks still are within the boundaries and must be dealt with.

Ameren is to file a report to FERC within a year addressing how it proposes to remedy such encroaching structures.

SNC-Lavalin awarded contract for pumped-storage project

The San Diego County Water Authority has signed SNC-Lavalin’s Operations and Maintenance division to a 62-month contract for management of its Lake Hodges Pump Station.

SNC-Lavalin, administering the contract as ProTrans USA, will operate and maintain the 40-MW pumped-storage plant to fulfill the San Diego County Water Authority’s 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric.

The pumped-storage plant uses water stored in the Olivenhain Reservoir and releases downstream to Lake Hodges.

Toronto-based SNC-Lavalin is an international engineering and construction group with facility operation projects in 100 countries.

Black & Veatch to design new Wisconsin hydro plant

Black & Veatch has been selected to design a new powerhouse for We Energies’ Twin Falls plant.

Black & Veatch will replace a nearly 100-year-old facility at Twin Falls, which will be built on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee River. The facility will have a capacity of 9 MW when it is completed in the summer of 2016, a release indicates. The current 6.1-MW powerhouse sits on the Michigan side of the river and features five turbine-generating units, according to Black & Veatch.

Constructing the new Twin Falls hydro plant before decommissioning the current facility will not only prevent a stoppage in power supply but also allow continual water passage, We Energies says.

The utility company operates 13 hydropower plants in east central and northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. The facilities have a total combined capacity of 86 MW.

FERC approves five projects totaling 22.7 MW in April

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued two licenses and three exemptions from licensing totaling 22.7 MW in April.

The Energy Infrastructure Update for April 2012, compiled by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, showed the agency also approved amendments for two projects, increasing their capacities a total of 7.35 MW.

Licenses issued for Jennings Randolph, Ball Mountain

FERC issued an original license to Fairlawn Hydroelectric Co. LLC for the 14-MW Jennings Randolph project in Maryland and West Virginia.

The project is on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jennings Randolph Dam on the North Branch of the Potomac River.

The commission also issued an original license in April to Blue Heron LLC for the 2.2-MW Ball Mountain project to be built at the Corps’ Ball Mountain Dam on the West River near Jamaica, Vt.

Exemptions given for Puu Lua, Three Sisters, Eightmile

FERC granted conduit exemptions to applicants for three projects in April:

– Konohiki Hydropower LLC, a subsidiary of Pacific Light & Power Inc., for the 5.3-MW Puu Lua project in Kauai County, Hawaii. It dismissed a competing permit application by Clean River Power LLC;

– Three Sisters Irrigation District for the 700-kW Three Sisters Irrigation project on Three Sisters Irrigation District Main Canal at Whychus Creek in Deschutes County, Ore.; and

– Jordan Whittaker of Leadore, Idaho, for 460-kW Eightmile on the applicant’s irrigation pipeline in Lemhi County, Idaho.

Amendments made to Stewarts Bridge, Skelton, Niagara

The commission approved a license amendment to Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P. for the 30-MW Stewarts Bridge project on the Sacandaga River in New York. FERC okayed the addition of a 2.6-MW unit in a new powerhouse, increasing the project’s total installed capacity to 32.6 MW.

NextEra FPL Energy Maine LLC won approval of an amendment allowing upgrade of generating units of the 16.8-MW Skelton project on the Saco River in York County, Maine. The work is to increase capacity by 4.75 MW to a total of 21.55 MW.

Although it does not increase the project’s total installed capacity, FERC approved a license amendment allowing New York Power Authority to rehabilitate 12 20-MW pump-turbines at the 240-MW Lewiston pumped-storage plant in New York. The upgrade at Lewiston, part of the 2,755-MW Niagara project, will increase the turbines’ total capacity to 270 MW from 252 MW. However, the plant’s total installed capacity is limited by its generators’ size, which remains at a total of 240 MW. NYPA awarded a contract in April to Ferguson Electric of Buffalo, N.Y., to assist in the Lewiston modernization program.

GEI Consultants selected for two penstock projects

Boston-based GEI Consultants Inc. has been selected for several projects involving penstock replacement and assessment. GEI says it will provide services for one project in Michigan and two in California.

In Michigan, GEI was selected by U.P. Hydro LLC to provide re-commissioning services for the water conveyance system at its 2-MW Cataract project in Marquette County. The system was constructed in 1923 and has operated continuously until 2008, when concerns about its reliability and potential for failure caused it to be removed.

Now, GEI will provide a new steel penstock in addition to providing site data collection services and a structural assessment for the project. GEI worked with UP Hydro to address penstock leak detection and automated intake flow control requirements for the proposed conveyance system.

GEI’s other projects include work at the 118-MW Moccasin and Holm penstocks in Tuolumne County, Calif. The facilities are owned by Hetch Hetchy Water and Power.

The Moccasin plant is part of San Francisco’s municipal water delivery system. The 160-MW Holm facility provides electricity to the city’s rail system.

GEI will provide Hetch Hetchy Water and Power with a phased engineering evaluation of the physical condition and future serviceability of both the Moccasin and Holm penstocks.

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