Industry News

AMP-Ohio signs Voith to equip 105-MW Meldahl

American Municipal Power-Ohio signed a contract with Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation (now called Voith Hydro) for supply of turbine-generators to the 105-MW Meldahl hydroelectric project on the Ohio River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a 50-year license to the city of Hamilton, Ohio, to build and operate the project at the Corps of Engineers’ Captain Anthony Meldahl Locks and Dam. AMP-Ohio said it has an agreement with Hamilton to become co-licensee of the project. Hamilton would have rights to 51 percent of the project’s power, with the remainder going to other AMP-Ohio members.

The $122.9 million hydropower equipment contract represents an expansion of a relationship between Voith Siemens and AMP-Ohio. The utility awarded a contract in 2008 worth more than $300 million to Voith Siemens, which is to manufacture and supply equipment for three other Ohio River projects: 72-MW Smithland, 84-MW Cannelton, and 35-MW Willow Island.

Meldahl is to be built in Kentucky, on the south bank of the Ohio River. It will feature a powerhouse integral with the dam that contains three 35-MW horizontal Kaplan turbines with adjustable runner blades and wicket gates. Power will be transmitted through a five-mile, 138-kilovolt transmission line.

AMP-Ohio President Marc Gerken said the municipal utilities will build Meldahl as part of an “aggressive hydroelectric generation program, with a goal of adding more than 380 MW of hydropower to the organization’s portfolio.”

Meldahl is the largest of the six hydroelectric projects AMP-Ohio has under development. The utility is seeking a license with Wadsworth, Ohio, for the 48-MW Robert C. Byrd project, also on the Ohio. It also is working with Tri-Cities Power Authority on a feasibility study for the 25.8-MW Bluestone Dam on the New River in West Virginia. AMP-Ohio currently operates 42-MW Belleville on the Ohio.

FERC approves power sales contract for three Ohio River projects

In other action, AMP-Ohio secured federal approval of a proposed power sales contract that will help finance construction of the Smithland, Cannelton, and Willow Island plants.

FERC approved the contract in March, providing for the sale of power from the three plants to municipalities from several states.

The contract covers a period about 16 years beyond the 2041 expiration date of the Cannelton license, about 19 years beyond the 2038 expiration date of the Smithland license, and 18 years beyond the 2039 expiration of the Willow Island license. AMP-Ohio said extending power sales would ensure the projects remain economically attractive.

The non-profit AMP-Ohio provides wholesale power and services to about 126 municipalities that own and operate electric systems in six states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. It said it plans to contract with more than 70 municipalities for the delivery of power from the three projects.

AMP-Ohio said the contract would help it: secure project financing; ensure debt recovery and lock in long-term power sales; guarantee the availability of funds for project maintenance; and provide long-term, reliable power supply to the licensee’s customers. It also said the contract would enhance its ability to maintain a high bond rating and obtain future bond financing for modernizing the projects, covering relicensing costs, and paying for other expenses.

Reclamation awards contract for Grand Coulee overhaul

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $2 million contract to MWH Americas Inc. for work associated with the proposed overhaul of six units in the Third Power Plant at the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee hydroelectric project.

MWH Americas responded to a solicitation for the work, which involves project planning, project management, and construction management assistance. Reclamation said the contract covers one year with four one-year options.

Reclamation said the overhaul is necessary to ensure continued operation of the units. It includes work on the generator, turbine, shaft, and auxiliary equipment of all six units at the powerhouse, on the Columbia River in Washington.

The units, G-19 through G-24, are starting to experience problems stemming from age-related wear on principle components, Reclamation said. The problems have resulted in increased power outages and reduce reliability. The units have been in service since the mid-1970s.

Reclamation awards transformer contract

Reclamation announced it awarded a $6 million contract to furnish and install three new transformers and other equipment at Grand Coulee Dam Right Power Plant, part of the Grand Coulee hydroelectric project.

The contractor, Koontz Electric Co. Inc., Morrilton, Ark., also is to will remove two in-service General Electric transformers and prepare them for storage as spares, Reclamation said. Other related equipment also is to be removed and disposed of, including one failed transformer.

Work is expected to be completed by February 2011. The Right Power Plant houses nine generators that began producing electricity in 1950. Power plants at Grand Coulee Dam generate about 20,000 gigawatt-hours in an average water year, Reclamation said.

Corps names ABB for work at Libby, Chief Joseph projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Seattle District said it intends to award a sole source contract to ABB Power Generation Inc. to design, supply, and install 16 excitation systems for 525-MW Libby Dam in Montana and 2,457.3-MW Chief Joseph Dam in Washington.

The said the contractor is to remove existing static exciters, and design, manufacture, test, deliver, and install 16 Unitrol 6080 excitation systems.

ABB Power Generation of Littleton, Colo., is expected to provide excitation systems that include automatic voltage regulators, power system stabilizers, power potential transformers, and other ancillary equipment. Excitation equipment is to be of a type that is designed for field excitation and voltage regulation of hydroelectric generators with ratings of 10 megavolt-amperes or more.

Libby Dam is located on the Kootenai River in Montana. Chief Joseph Dam is on the Columbia River in north central Washington. In 2007, the Corps awarded an $80 million contract to Alstom Hydro U.S. Inc. to manufacture replacement runners for 10 of 16 original units at Chief Joseph.

Reclamation awards contract for 250-MW Yellowtail equipment

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $1.7 million contract to Eaton Corp. for generator circuit breaker replacement at the 250-MW Yellowtail Dam hydroelectric project in south-central Montana.

The contract calls for Eaton to remove the original 1960-era circuit breakers and install four new breakers. Reclamation anticipates it will take six months for the new breakers to be manufactured and about nine months of on-site work.

The four-unit hydropower plant, on the Big Horn River about 45 miles southwest of Hardin, Mont., began service in August 1966. It is one of five hydropower plants in the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Project.

FERC issues relicense for 865.76-MW Rocky Reach

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a relicense order for continued operation of the 865.76-MW Rocky Reach hydroelectric project on the mid-Columbia River in Washington.

The order includes provisions of a settlement agreement and provides for a 43-year term. The original license, issued in 1957, expired in 2006, after which licensee Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) operated the project under a temporary annual license.

The new license contains environmental mitigation to protect resources near the project, including plans to deal with shoreline erosion, water quality, white sturgeon, bull trout, Pacific lamprey, historic properties, and cultural resources. The relicense also provides for wildlife recreation management plans.

“We conclude that the project’s power, low cost, displacement of non-renewable fossil-fueled generation, and contributions to the region’s diversified generation mix will help meet a need for power in the region,” FERC said.

The original license, as amended in 2002, authorized an installed capacity of 1,237.4 MW. In 2004, FERC once again amended the license, revising capacity to conform to regulations defining authorized installed capacity as the lesser of the ratings of the generators or turbines. In the 2004 amendment, FERC changed the authorized installed capacity to 865.76 MW but noted the capacity of the 12 generators totaled 1,280.45 MW.

Commissioners express project support

FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller expressed support for Rocky Reach, which is located in his home state.

“This decision is made all the more gratifying by Chelan PUD’s implementation of the Habitat Conservation Plan – a plan negotiated with federal, state, tribal and environmental representatives,” Moeller said. “I applaud everyone for their innovative and collaborative approach to managing our hydropower resources while protecting the salmon and steelhead that migrate through the project.”

Commissioner Marc Spitzer issued a statement supporting the relicensing and adding hydroelectricity will continue to be an important component of the nation’s energy mix for various reasons.

“With concerns about climate change and alternative energy resources dominating the nation’s energy discussion, I note that hydroelectric power is a clean, renewable power source,” Spitzer said. “Hydropower is a resource that is available when needed. It can be released or held back to respond to demand. This flexibility makes it an ideal source to serve as reliable and dependable back up supply to other intermittent renewable resources.”

National Hydropower Association opens new office

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) is operating from new offices in Washington, D.C. The association moved from a space it called home for nearly a decade to a new location in a building next door in March.

NHA’s new address is 25 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 450, Washington, DC 20001. Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for NHA staff at the new address remain unchanged.

The new space provides for future growth, conference room space for receptions and board meetings, and is more conducive for staff productivity, NHA said.

Nebraska utility awards contract to support hydro

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) renewed a contract with MOR PPM Inc. to provide outage and maintenance support services for NPPD’s hydropower and fossil-fueled power plants throughout Nebraska.

PPM, a subsidiary of EMCOR Group Inc., has worked with NPPD since 1998, performing outage and maintenance services for the district’s fossil and nuclear power plants.

The new contract calls for PPM to provide services for the district’s hydropower, fossil, and nuclear-powered generating stations. PPM’s scope of services includes: modifications and renovations to equipment; installation of new equipment; pipefitting, millwright, and precision millwright services; and replacement of pumps and valves.

NPPD operates three hydropower projects: 24-MW North Platte Hydro, which began operation in 1937; 1.49-MW Kearney Hydro, which began operation in 1886; and 3-MW Spencer Hydro, operating since 1927. NPPD buys all electricity generated from the three projects. It also purchases electricity generated at four hydro facilities owned by the Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District, and two hydro plants owned by Loup River Public Power District.

Palumbo named Reclamation Engineer of the Year

David Palumbo, regional engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region, is the winner of the agency’s Engineer of the Year award.

Palumbo was recognized for his management efforts during 2008 in the development of Reclamation’s Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Storage Project at All American Canal Drop Structure No. 2 in southeastern California.

Reclamation is building the project with funds advanced by three municipal water agencies. The project, scheduled for completion by the end of August 2010, will conserve about 70,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water a year to help address drought in the lower Colorado River Basin.

Rolled Alloys grows, opens new warehouse

Rolled Alloys announces it has opened a 68,000-square-foot warehouse in Tulsa, Okla. A full line of the company’s heat- and corrosion-resistant alloys is housed at the new facility.

Rolled Alloys provides heat- and corrosion-resistant alloys, including stainless steels and titanium alloy products. The company also offers plasma cutting, shearing, and bar sawing.

Rolled Alloys operates facilities in 11 countries throughout the world.

French group acquires U.S. hydro operator

French utility group GDF Suez announced its Suez Energy North America unit completed the acquisition of U.S. hydropower operator FirstLight Power Enterprises from Energy Capital Partners.

Suez first announced plans to buy Connecticut-based FirstLight, the former NE Energy Inc., in September 2008. FirstLight owns 13 hydroelectric plants totaling about 1,265 MW and other power plants, all in either Connecticut or Massachusetts.

Although financial details were not disclosed, French industry sources once said the deal would be worth 1.3 billion euros (US$1.91 billion).

With the acquisition, GDF Suez Energy North America is now the fifth largest electricity generator in New England. In addition to FirstLight assets, the company has six renewable and gas-fired generating assets in the region, as well as retail electricity sales to large commercial and industrial customers, and liquefied natural gas sales to nearly every gas utility in the region.

Suez Energy North America owns or operates 61 power, cogeneration, steam, and chilled water facilities, including those in construction, representing more than 7,500 MW.

FirstLight operates 11 conventional hydro stations on the Shetucket and Housatonic rivers in Connecticut and on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts totaling about 167 MW. It also operates the 1,080-MW Northfield Mountain pumped-storage plant in Northfield, Mass., and the 29-MW Rocky River pumped-storage plant in New Milford, Conn. It also has 263.3 MW of natural gas and coal generation in operation or advanced development. The company has about 235 employees.

FirstLight power plants previously were owned by Northeast Utilities (NU). Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm, purchased NU’s competitive generation business in 2006, including assets totaling 1,442 MW, for $1.34 billion. At that time, Energy Capital Partners provisionally named the newly formed company NE Energy Inc.

The hydro plants include:

– NU subsidiary Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s (CLP) former Western System on the Housatonic, Bantam, and Still rivers, including 8.4-MW Bulls Bridge, 29-MW Rocky River, 43-MW Shepaug, 28.9-MW Stevenson, 320-kW Bantam, 10.2-MW Falls Village, and 600-kW Robertsville;

– CLP’s former Eastern System on the Shetucket and Quinebaug rivers, including 2-MW Scotland, 1.8-MW Taftville, and 2-MW Tunnel; and

– Northfield Mountain group on the Connecticut River, including 1,080-MW Northfield Mountain, 53-MW Cabot, and 6-MW Turners Falls.

U.S. papermaker NewPage sells 9.1-MW Little Quinnesec

Paper manufacturer NewPage Corp. announced it has completed the sale of its 9.1-MW Little Quinnesec Falls hydroelectric project in Wisconsin to Northbrook Wisconsin LLC.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Closing of the sale followed an agreement between the parties for the project, on the Menominee River in Niagara, Wis. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved an application March 10 to transfer the license for Little Quinnesec to Northbrook Wisconsin.

Northbrook Wisconsin is an affiliate of United States Power Fund III L.P., a private equity fund managed by Energy Investors Funds, and Northbrook Energy LLC. Sanabe & Associates LLC served as financial adviser to NewPage in the transaction.

Ohio-based NewPage previously announced it is considering selling a number of its hydropower projects as a way to help offset the company’s financial losses.

NewPage owns Consolidated Water Power Co., a former Stora Enso North America asset that owns and operates five hydro projects, totaling 33 MW, along 33 miles of the Wisconsin River in central Wisconsin: 6.232-MW Biron; 7.2-MW DuBay; 3.84-MW Stevens Point; 6.4-MW Whiting; and 9.23-MW Wisconsin Rapids. It also owns and operates the 2.013-MW Kimberly project, on the Fox River in Kimberly, Wis.

Alaska electric association buys 22.5-MW Terror Lake

Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) purchased the 22.51-MW Terror Lake hydroelectric project near Kodiak, Alaska, for $38 million from the Southeast Alaska Power Agency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service provided a $38 million loan to KEA for the project.

Terror Lake was one of four hydro projects once owned by Four Dam Pool Power Agency, now Southeast Alaska Power Agency. The purchase was completed Feb. 24, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order transferring the project’s operating license to KEA.

FERC also issued an order transferring the license for another of the projects, 18-MW Solomon Gulch, to the Copper Valley Electric Association Inc.

Southeast Alaska Power Agency keeps two projects

Southeast Alaska Power Agency retains ownership of the other two plants once owned by Four Dam Pool Power Agency: 22-MW Swan Lake and 20-MW Lake Tyee. FERC issued orders earlier this year amending the licenses of the two projects to formally change the name of the licensee to Southeast Alaska Power Agency.

Southeast Alaska Power Agency members include Ketchikan Public Utilities, Petersburg Municipal Power & Light, and Wrangell Municipal Power & Light. KEA and Copper Valley Electric Association, members of Four Dam Pool Power Agency, are not members of the newly named power agency.

On-Line Report: 500-kW Albany

A newly commissioned 500-kW hydroelectric project owned by the city of Albany, Ore., is expected to produce 2,800 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power about 250 homes.

The facility houses one operating 500-kW unit, which will operate year-round except for a few months each summer when river flows are too low to divert to the canal without affecting fish habitat, the city said. Albany sells project electricity to Pacific Power under terms of a 15-year power purchase agreement that includes escalating power rates determined by Oregon regulators; the current purchase rate 7.11 cents per kilowatt-hour on peak-net output.

CF Malm Engineers of Seattle was the design-build engineer and contractor on the $2.2 million project. China Huadian Engineering Co. Ltd., of San Huan, Beijing, China, furnished the turbine and generator.

The new unit was installed in 2008 as authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The unit began producing electricity in October 2008, after which time engineers fine-tuned operations and added an additional protective disconnect switch and controls. Staff was trained in November 2008 on how to operate the system, and the system began a substantial completion test in January.

The city dedicated the facility, at the Vine Street Water Treatment Plant on the Santiam-Albany Canal, in February. In conjunction with the dedication, the city held an open house with plant tours conducted by public works staff.

The newly renovated facility is located at a site where electricity in Albany was first generated in 1888. The hydropower facility operated for more than 100 years before it was decommissioned in the early 1990s. Two 1924 turbine-generators operated at the plant until 1991, when they were decommissioned. While one unit was removed so the new unit could be installed, the second old generator and its controls remain in place as historic artifacts.

Several organizations contributed financially to make the $2.2 million project a reality. City bond monies were used to help fund the project. The Energy Trust of Oregon provided a $475,000 grant, and Pacific Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program provided a $25,000 grant. The city also has applied for a $580,000 business energy tax credit from the Oregon Department of Energy.

APPA backs federal renewable electricity standard

In a policy shift from previous years, American Public Power Association (APPA) members passed a resolution supporting adoption of a federal mandatory renewable electricity standard for utilities, if certain conditions are met.

Members of APPA’s Legislative and Resolutions Committee met in February in an annual Legislative Rally in Washington, adopting 11 resolutions including support of a federal renewable electricity standard and an improved electricity transmission system.

A renewable electricity standard would require electric utilities to supply a portion of their electricity from renewable energy sources. A measure in Senate committee proposes a 20 percent renewables rate by 2021. Legislation in the House proposes 25 percent by 2025, the same rate put forward by President Obama when he was on the campaign trail.

The APPA resolution declared the public power utilities would support a renewable electricity standard based on retail sales by large sellers, set at a level not to exceed 15 percent, and not requiring full compliance before 2020.

APPA: Hydropower should be included

The APPA resolution also conditioned its support on a requirement that the broadest range of renewable energy sources be eligible, including incremental hydropower from improvements at existing hydro projects, and new hydropower added to existing hydro and non-hydro dams.

In addition, the resolution said the standard must exclude utilities’ existing hydropower from their base amount of electricity when calculating the amount of renewable energy they must obtain. It said that should include existing hydropower owned by the federal government.

It said any renewables credits that accrue to federally owned hydro generation marketed by federal power marketing administrations should be provided directly to the power customers affected by renewable electricity standards or should be sold with proceeds going to repayment of affected projects as determined by federal power customers.

APPA is the service organization for the more than 2,000 publicly owned electric utilities, including 130 with hydroelectric capacity. Hydroelectric projects represent nearly 22 percent of public power’s generating capacity.

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