Hydro Currents

EPRI report sees hydro opportunity

A study of U.S. hydropower potential, presented to the National Hydropower Association (NHA), finds at least 23,000 MW of additional hydropower capacity could be brought on line by 2025. Doug Dixon, manager of the study project for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), told the NHA annual conference, March 15-18 in Washington, that EPRI investigators reviewed conventional hydroelectric projects and new technologies using energy from tides, ocean waves, and currents. The 23,000 MW figure includes 10,000 MW from conventional hydro, 3,000 MW from new hydrokinetic technologies, and 10,000 MW from ocean wave energy devices. The report calls for several measures to accomplish development of hydropower’s potential, including a public-private sector program called the Advanced Water Energy Initiative. The program would provide research, development, demonstration, and deployment guidance, as well as funding of $212 million in the short-term, and $377 million through 2015.

Study: 1,100 MW could be added to Corps sites

In remarks to the National Hydropower Association conference, an official of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previewed an upcoming Department of Energy report on the potential for new generation at existing federal hydroelectric projects and non-power water projects. Manager Kamau Sadiki of the Corps’ National Hydropower Business Program said the report, ordered by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is to be released soon. Sadiki said agencies evaluated 871 existing federal facilities, with and without hydropower, for hydro generation potential and economic viability. Facilities included 218 sites under the Corps and 653 under the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said Corps figures indicate more than 1,100 MW could be added to the agency’s existing federal facilities. He said 819 MW could be added to 47 non-hydro facilities, while another 358 MW could be added to 11 existing Corps hydropower projects.

FERC relicenses NYPA’s Niagara Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a 50-year relicense March 15 to the New York Power Authority’s 2,755-MW Niagara project, ensuring another half-century’s operation of the project, which supplies 10 percent of New York’s electricity. FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher congratulated parties for reaching a settlement that resulted in relicensing the historic project at Niagara Falls before the original license expires on Aug. 31. FERC ap-

proved a settlement agreement providing for fish and wildlife habitat improvements, an ecological oversight committee, public access and recreation improvements, a management plan for project lands, and improvements to a tunnel to minimize groundwater seepage. The Niagara project includes the 240-MW Lewiston pumped-storage plant and the 2,515-MW Robert Moses Niagara power plant on the Niagara River between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in Niagara County, N.Y.

Québec premier backs 1,500-MW La Romaine

Québec Premier Jean Charest pledged in March to proceed with development of the four-plant, 1,500-MW La Romaine hydroelectric complex if he were re-elected. In remarks to the Saguenay Chamber of Commerce, Charest, who also leads Québec’s Liberal Party, said his vision is to use hydroelectric development as a tool to create wealth in all areas of Québec. However, it remains to be seen how Charest will proceed. Although he was re-elected, his party won only 48 of the province’s 125 seats in Québec’s legislative assembly. As a result Charest heads a minority government. The C$8.5 billion (US$7.25 billion) La Romaine complex is to include 260-MW Romaine 1, 610-MW Romaine 2, 380-MW Romaine 3, and 250-MW Romaine 4 on the Romaine River in Québec’s Basse-Cote-Nord Region. The investment includes C$7 billion (US$5.97 billion) for the power stations and C$1.5 billion (US$1.28 billion) for transmission lines to connect them to the Hydro-Quebec grid.

U.S. offers $400 million in clean energy bonds

The Internal Revenue Service invites applications until July 13 for $400 million in bonding authority available from the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds Program. The IRS issued a notice soliciting applications from cooperatives and government entities for authority to issue tax credit bonds under the Internal Revenue Code to finance eligible projects including some hydropower. The bonds provide a tax credit rather than interest. The notice and application are available as a single document on the Internet at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/n-07-26a.pdf. They also can be obtained from www.irs.gov under Tax Exempt Bond Community, TEB Current Developments, Notice 2007-26 (Clean Renewable Energy Bonds). The $400 million is in addition to $800 million previously authorized for the program, created to provide incentives to entities that are not eligible for a federal production tax credit program.

Appeals court rejects Columbia salmon opinion

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a federal judge to strike down the 2004 biological opinion for operating the federal Columbia River Basin hydropower system. The appeals court issued its decision April 9 in an appeal of U.S. District Judge James Redden’s 2005 ruling that NOAA Fisheries’ plan for operating the system was legally flawed in finding “no jeopardy” to salmon and steelhead listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Redden’s ruling stemmed from a challenge by environmentalists, fishing groups, and Indian tribes of the administration’s $6 billion, ten-year plan to improve dams for fish passage. NOAA Fisheries, the Bureau of Reclamation, Corps of Engineers, and Bonneville Power Administration issued a statement saying they remain committed to producing a comprehensive biological opinion for power system operations that will protect listed salmon. Environmental groups hailed the ruling and revived their call for removal of four Corps of Engineers hydroelectric projects on the lower Snake River.

Some dams on “endangered” rivers list

American Rivers cited dams, including one hydropower project, as reasons for listing a handful of the rivers on its 2007 list of ten “most endangered” rivers. The Santa Fe River in New Mexico tops the 2007 list. American Rivers blames the city of Santa Fe’s water storage dams – the first built in 1881 – and irrigation diversions for drying up the 42-mile tributary to the Rio Grande. The group urged the city to begin minimal releases into the river and to purchase water rights on behalf of the river. Washington’s White Salmon River, location of 13.7-MW Condit Dam, ranked fifth on the list, released April 17. Condit Dam, the only hydro project cited, was blamed for cutting off

salmon and steelhead from an important Columbia River tributary. Although dam owner PacifiCorp has agreed to remove the project, American Rivers noted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to approve the deal. The group also cited proposed water supply dams for listing the Neches River in Texas, ranked sixth, and Lee Creek in Arkansas and Oklahoma, ranked ninth.

California governor spotlights new dams

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Friant Dam March 26 to draw attention to his proposal for $5.95 billion in bonds for water management, including $4.5 billion to build two new dams in a comprehensive water storage and conveyance system. “The Friant Dam and Millerton Lake Reservoir is a place that we chose to do this press conference today because we are in desperate need to have more above ground water storage, and we want to make sure that we put the spotlight on this issue,” Schwarzenegger said. Friant Dam is a main feature of the Friant Division of the Bureau of Reclamation’s 1,844-MW Central Valley Project’s Friant Division. Schwarzenegger proposed the bond issue in January, with most of the revenue to be used to build Sites Dam and Reservoir in Colusa County, northwest of Sacramento, and Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir, in Fresno County near Friant Dam.

Plutonic to develop three more B.C. projects

Plutonic Power Corp. is seeking regulatory approvals to develop three more hydroelectric projects, totaling 116 MW, near the headwaters of Toba Inlet in British Columbia. Plutonic said it filed applications to secure a water license and crown land rights for the 28-MW Dalgleish Creek, 48-MW Jimmie Creek, and 40-MW Upper Toba River projects, 100 kilometers north of Powell River, B.C. In March, Plutonic signed an agreement with a First Nation to help advance construction of two other hydroelectric projects, the 123-MW East Toba River and 73-MW Montrose Creek projects in the Toba River Valley. (See Canadian News.) “The incremental value of any new sites within the Toba Valley that can be developed taking advantage of infrastructure that we are about to construct will be highly accretive to building value for Plutonic shareholders and stakeholders,” Plutonic President Donald McInnes said.

American Energy to pay full FERC penalty

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) upheld a decision finding American Energy Inc. must pay an entire $300,000 penalty levied for violations of safety regulations and license conditions at six Michigan projects. FERC said American Energy failed to meet terms of a 2005 consent agreement. The agreement included a compliance plan and schedule for the company and its subsidiaries to remedy outstanding deficiencies. Had American Energy maintained compliance, the agreement would have permitted it to avoid paying $110,000 of the $300,000 penalty. FERC ruled American Energy violated Federal Power Act safety requirements and failed to submit schedules, plans, and drawings on time. American Energy subsidiaries own 10.28-MW Waterloo and Seneca Falls, 2.509-MW Kings Dam, 702-kW Smithville and Mix, 350-kW Middleville, 800-kW LaBarge, and 600-kW Irving Dam.

Hydro Currents is compiled by the staff of HydroNews.net, a product of HCI Publications, 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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