Breaking News: Hydro Currents

Duke Energy initiates relicensing of two hydroelectric stations in South Carolina

Duke Energy filed two documents with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that officially start the multi-year relicensing process for the two hydroelectric stations in the Keowee-Toxaway Hydroelectric Project (KT Project).

Along with the Notice of Intent, Duke Energy also filed the Pre-Application Document that provides FERC, federal and state agencies, and other interested stakeholders with a wealth of information on the Keowee-Toxaway facilities and operations.

It compiles existing information on environmental, cultural and natural resources, recreation, and socioeconomics. It also identifies pertinent issues and defines potential studies that Duke Energy and stakeholders will undertake during relicensing.

“Our emphasis has always been to operate these facilities in a way that balances the need for providing electricity for our customers while protecting water quality, water supply, recreation, aquatic life and wildlife habitat,” said Jen Huff, relicensing project manager.

The KT Project was originally licensed in 1966 for 50 years. The current license expires in August 2016.

The KT Project includes Keowee Hydroelectric Station and Lake Keowee, along with Jocassee Pumped Storage Station and Lake Jocassee. Together, the two plants have an installed generating capacity of 868 MW.

Canada funding two hydropower projects in Saguenay

The government of Canada said it will provide C$6.9 million over 10 years to build two hydropower projects in Saguenay, Quebec.

The funding will be allocated from Canada’s ecoEnergy for Renewable Power program.

“Investing in clean energy technologies stimulates the growth of a domestic clean energy industry, creating high-quality jobs for Canadians,” said Jean-Pierre Blackburn, minister of Veterans Affairs.

Both projects have been refurbished and were expected to be commissioned in March. The Pont-Arnaud and Chute-Garneau projects have a combined capacity of more than 13 MW and are capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 7,000 homes.

The electricity produced by the two projects will be sold to Hydro-Quebec.

Since 2006, Canada has invested more than C$10 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable environment through investments in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of cleaner energy and cleaner fuels.

Canada has established a series of policies and programs to help lower greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

“Moving forward aggressively with investments in clean energy technologies will help us balance our need for energy with our need to protect the environment,” Blackburn said.

FERC final EIS recommends relicensing 368-MW McCloud-Pit

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) that recommends relicensing the 368-MW McCloud-Pit hydroelectric project on the McCloud and Pit rivers in Shasta County, Calif.

The final EIS, issued Feb. 25, retains, with a few changes, the provisions of a draft EIS issued by FERC staff in July 2010. Licensee Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed a relicense application for the project in July 2009.

The project includes two storage reservoirs, McCloud and Iron Canyon; two regulating reservoirs, Pit 6 and 7; one afterbay, Pit 7 afterbay; two tunnels; three powerhouses, 172-MW James B. Black, 80-MW Pit 6, and 112-MW Pit 7; and transmission facilities.

PG&E’s relicense application proposes adding a 5- to 8-MW powerhouse at McCloud Dam and a 10-MW powerhouse at Pit 7 Afterbay Dam. While FERC’s capacity listings for the new and proposed powerhouses total 382 MW, the EIS lists McCloud-Pit as 368 MW.

FEMA denies appeal for funding following 2010 Iowa dam failure

Federal Emergency Management Agency denied an appeal for federal funding to help rebuild a dam that failed on Lake Delhi in Iowa during last summer’s flooding.

FEMA denied the initial request in August, saying the group that owns the dam and another created to levy taxes to maintain the dam didn’t meet eligibility criteria. It cited the same reasons in denying the appeal.

The Lake Delhi dam failed as rising floodwater from the Maquoketa River ate a 30-foot-wide hole in it. Areas below the dam were evacuated.

The breach drained the 9-mile-long reservoir, which is surrounded by homes and cabins.

The dam generated power until the 1970s.

Magma, Plutonic announce merger

Magma Energy Corp., a Vancouver- based geothermal power developer, agreed to buy Plutonic Power Corp. for C$190 million (US$195.7 million) in stock to diversify its renewable energy capabilities.

Magma, which will change its name to Alterra Power Corp. after the transaction closes, said in a statement that Plutonic investors will receive 2.38 of its shares for every Plutonic share held.

Plutonic, which operates hydroelectric plants and wind farms, announced in January plans to acquire three photovoltaic solar projects from First Solar Inc.

The sale must be approved by shareholders of both companies at meetings to be held in April. The combined company will have a market capitalization of about C$575 million.

Gridflex Energy pursuing pumped-storage projects

Gridflex Energy LLC, a developer of bulk energy-storage projects, is pursuing plans for five pumped-storage hydroelectric projects in Wyoming.

Four of the proposed projects would be built in Carbon County, within range of several planned transmission projects intended to ship Wyoming’s wind energy to Southwestern markets.

The fifth proposed pumped-storage project would be built in Converse County near the planned origination point of the High Plains Express, which is intended to help deliver renewable energy through Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to Arizona.

The projects range in size from 300 MW to 500 MW. The combined capacity of the projects, if all were developed, would be 1,900 MW. Energy storage potential would be more than 50 gigawatts an hour.

Court: FERC may reject interim conditions for annual license

A federal appeals court upheld authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the imposition of interim conditions on a temporary annual license for a hydroelectric project.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an appeal by the Hoopa Valley Tribe of a FERC order refusing to impose interim conditions on the annual license of the 161-MW Klamath hydroelectric project in Oregon and California. The project has been operating under annual licenses since its original license expired in 2006.

“The D.C. Circuit’s opinion provides certainty to licensees that new (Federal Power Act) Section 4(e) conditions or other relicensing conditions will not be automatically imposed on an annual license as interim conditions,” said Washington law firm Van Ness Feldman, which represented licensee PacifiCorp.

“Instead, FERC can exercise its discretion when determining whether continued operation of a project pending relicensing will cause ‘unanticipated serious impacts’ to resources in the area. … Consequently, licensees operating under an annual license will be protected from costly and unanticipated interim conditions that are not justified by the record.”

PacifiCorp originally tried to relicense the project, but eventually agreed to project removal in the face of regional opposition. PacifiCorp and other parties approved a settlement agreement providing for removal of the Klamath project’s four major hydro plants and dams to resolve Klamath River resource issues.

Eagle Creek acquires New York small hydro projects

Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC, a portfolio company of clean energy private equity firm Hudson Clean Energy Partners, has acquired two hydroelectric facilities in Sullivan and Orange County, New York.

The move represents the first step of its planned development and acquisition activities in small-scale hydroelectric generation.

The newly acquired assets – which have a total generating capacity of 15 MW – include the Mongaup Falls and Rio powerhouses, dams, lakes and associated real estate and water rights.

Hudson Clean Energy Partners, which invests in renewable power, alternative fuels, energy efficiency and storage, formed Eagle Creek in 2010 as a platform to execute a small-scale hydroelectric asset roll-up strategy in the U.S

Free Flow withdraws application for pumped-storage project in Pennsylvania

After proposing plans to build a 990-MW pumped-storage project in York County, Pa., Massachusetts-based Free Flow Power Corp. withdrew its application for a preliminary permit.

Free Flow’s proposal called for the construction of a 9,800-foot-long, 225-foot-tall dam across Cuffs Run in Chanceford Township.

But the company pulled the plug on the project, saying it did not meet the company’s “criteria.”

In addition to the dam that would have crossed Cuffs Run and an unnamed stream creating an upper reservoir, a 700-foot-long, 95-foot-high dike would have crossed the eastern side of the run. The proposal also called for the construction of an underground powerhouse complete with three pump turbines.

“We have elected not to pursue this project,” Free Flow spokesman Jon Guidroz told the York Daily Record. “However, we cannot predict whether other developers would seek to do so.”

The project’s environmental and engineering costs were estimated to be $1 million.

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