Hydro Currents

PennWell acquires assets of HCI

PennWell Corp., a diversified global information company, announced it acquired the assets of HCI Publications Inc., a Kansas City, Mo.-based producer of magazines, conferences, and exhibitions serving the hydroelectric industry. HCI assets include Hydro Review and HRW magazines, the Internet-based hydropower news service HydroNews.net, the HydroVision and Waterpower conferences and exhibitions, and other hydropower-related research and information products. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed. The owners of HCI Publications, Leslie Eden and Carl Vansant, will serve as consultants to PennWell. Additionally, seven HCI editorial and sales employees joined PennWell, continuing to work from the Kansas City offices. Oklahoma-based PennWell will manage the business from its headquarters in Tulsa under Richard Baker, Vice President, Global Energy Group. “PennWell is pleased to add these outstanding publications and events to our expanding renewable energy portfolio since hydropower is an essential vertical extension for our renewable energy franchise,” PennWell President and Chief Executive Officer Robert F. Biolchini said. HCI President Leslie Eden expressed confidence in PennWell as the best home for growth of the publications and events. “We are honored that PennWell, as the world’s leading and most respected provider of information to multiple energy markets, will advance the international reach and development of our products and services for hydropower,” Eden said.

Stimulus incentives include hydro

The U.S. House passed an $816 billion economic stimulus bill Jan. 28 containing $20 billion in energy tax credits and incentives that are part of President Obama’s plan to revive the American economy. About $13 billion is for three-year extension of production tax credits for renewable energy, including incremental hydropower and energy from ocean and hydrokinetic sources. Because many renewables projects are having difficulty finding financing in current markets, the bill would allow projects in place in 2009 and 2010 to temporarily claim a 30 percent investment tax credit instead of the production tax credit. The bill also would authorize $1.6 billion in new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to finance public power renewables. A Senate committee advanced its own stimulus bill Jan. 27, containing $31 billion in tax credits and financial incentives to boost alternative energy supplies. The full Senate held extensive debate on its version of the stimulus bill, trimming some provisions to avoid a filibuster by Republican opponents.

Obama fills posts affecting hydro

President Obama appointed a series of Cabinet and administrative officials who control aspects of U.S. hydropower development and operation. He named Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., a former environmental lawyer, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Obama appointed physicist Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and advocate of alternative energy research, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. Other appointees include: Lisa Jackson, chief of staff for New Jersey’s governor, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Carol Browner, former EPA chief, to lead a White House Council on Energy, Climate, and Environmental Issues; and Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles deputy mayor for energy and environment, to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In the face of a legal inquiry, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his proposed nomination for secretary of the Commerce Department, which includes NOAA Fisheries.

Newfoundland to seize Abitibi hydro

Premier Danny Williams announced the government of Newfoundland and Labrador will expropriate AbititiBowater Inc.’s timber rights and hydroelectric assets when the paper maker closes its last newsprint mill in the province in 2009. Williams announced the action in a December message to the Legislature after AbitibiBowater indicated it would permanently close its mill in Grand Falls-Windsor due to declining demand. A 1905 lease agreement with Newfoundland gave Abitibi the access to timber and water rights for producing paper. Projects include 30-MW Beeton, 45-MW Grand Falls-Windsor, 20-MW Bishop’s Falls, and 18-MW Star Lake. AbitibiBowater considered legal action to prevent the seizure. In Ontario, AbitibiBowater reached preliminary agreement to sell its 75 percent stake in hydro owner ACH Limited Partnership to an unnamed buyer for C$540 million (US$443 million). Ontario projects include 12.8-MW Fort Frances, 25.2-MW Iroquois Falls, 47-MW Island Falls, and 22-MW Twin Falls.

Wellinghoff named FERC chairman

President Obama named Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jan. 23. Wellinghoff, a Nevada independent, replaces Joseph Kelliher, a Washington, D.C., Republican, who resigned as chairman Jan. 7. Kelliher, whose term as commissioner is to end June 30, 2012, said he would remain on the panel while looking for a new job. Commissioners Philip Moeller of Washington and Marc Spitzer of Arizona also are Republicans. The fifth member, Suedeen Kelly of New Mexico, is a Democrat. In 2008, Wellinghoff challenged the hydro industry to develop at least 90,000 MW of new hydropower by 2030, calling projections of a possible 23,000 MW of new hydro by 2025 too conservative.

Kelliher: Talks should include FERC

Outgoing Chairman Joseph Kelliher warns parties to include Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff when negotiating complicated settlement agreements for licensing of some hydroelectric projects. If commission staff members are not involved in a complicated license proceeding, there is a greater probability the ultimate settlement will include terms that cannot be included in a FERC license, Kelliher said at a December briefing. Such instances, he added, could require FERC to modify a license and sever certain terms of a settlement. In 2006, FERC issued a policy statement providing guidance on the types of settlement agreement terms that can be included in FERC licenses without incurring subsequent modification by the commission.

PPL cancels Holtwood Expansion

PPL Corp. canceled plans to develop the 88.3-MW Holtwood Expansion hydroelectric project on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, citing unfavorable economic conditions. PPL withdrew an application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Holtwood Expansion, effectively canceling the addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood hydroelectric project. Estimated construction costs had grown to $440 million from $300 million, PPL said. The high cost of capital has significantly affected the economics of large construction projects like Holtwood Expansion.

Ontario extends hydro site applications

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is extending indefinitely the deadline for new applications and expressions of interest for waterpower site development. The previous deadline was Dec. 10, 2008. MNR supports new hydropower generation by providing opportunities to develop sites on government-owned land where no dams exist, and by using existing government-owned dams for generation of electricity. Announcements about the solicitation are available on the ministry’s Renewable Extranet site, at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Renewable.

U.S. rejects Yakima storage, hydro

A final study of water storage options for Washington’s Yakima River Basin concludes it is better to do nothing than to develop the Black Rock Alternative, a water project that would have included two new hydropower plants. The Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study Final Planning Report/Environmental Impact Statement evaluated Black Rock, two other alternatives for creating additional water storage, and a “no action” alternative. “None of the alternatives adequately met the criteria or were economically justified,” Gerald Kelso, manager of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Columbia Area Office, said. The $4.5 billion Black Rock Reservoir was the only alternative that would provide hydropower benefits, generating a net $3 million annually.

Lawsuit: Taum Sauk breach fouled lake

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filed suit against the operator of Missouri’s 408-MW Taum Sauk pumped-storage project, saying the 2005 failure of the project’s upper reservoir dumped an unknown amount of sediment and debris into the Corps’ Clearwater Lake. The Corps filed suit in December in U.S. District Court at Cape Girardeau, seeking damages from Union Electric Co., doing business as AmerenUE, the hydro project licensee. A Corps spokeswoman said the lawsuit was filed two days before a statute of limitations expired, preserving the Corps’ right to pursue a claim. AmerenUE said it was unaware of any evidence that sediment from the breach affected Clearwater Lake’s operational capacity.

Renewables event features Hoover tour

A special treat for hydro industry delegates – a hard-hat tour of 2,078-MW Hoover Dam – is featured at the Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, March 10-12 in Las Vegas. Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, formerly POWER-GEN Renewable Energy and Fuels, offers sessions dealing with renewable energies including the hydroelectric, ocean/tidal/wave, wind, solar, biomass, bio-power, and bio-fuels hydrogen sectors. The opening session March 10 features a roundtable discussion by renewable energy association leaders, including Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci of the National Hydropower Association. The hydro track features sessions on meeting new energy demand in North America and lessons learned in ocean, tidal, and hydrokinetic projects. The Hoover Dam Hard Hat Tour takes place March 9, during a day of pre-conference activity. The conference is owned and produced by PennWell. For details and registration information, see the conference Internet site, http://rewna09.events.pennnet.com.

Hydro Currents is compiled by the staff of HydroNews.net, a product of PennWell Corporation, the world’s leading provider of hydro information. To subscribe, call (1) 816-931-1311, or visit the Internet: www.hcipub.com

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