Industry News

FERC relicenses Washington’s 1,893-MW Priest Rapids

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a 44-year new license (relicense) to Grant County Public Utility District’s (PUD) 1,893-MW Priest Rapids project on the mid-Columbia River in Washington.

FERC said Priest Rapids would continue to provide a dependable, renewable source of electricity for the region. The project’s two powerhouses – Priest Rapids and Wanapum – are expected to generate an average of 9 million megawatt-hours annually, FERC said.

The project generates electricity for millions of consumers in seven states. Thirty percent of the project’s power is sold to 23 other Northwest utilities.

Licensee to invest more than $1 billion

Grant County PUD said it worked with a wide range of stakeholders to maximize electricity generated at the plants while increasing efforts to protect fish, other natural and cultural resources, and recreational opportunities. It said additional work in those areas is expected to exceed $1 billion over the license term.

Work already in progress in support of the relicense includes replacement of turbines with advanced technology models, construction of a bypass that offers alternate fish passage through the dam, and operation of a new fish trap that allows for detailed fish research.

Although improvements to environmental protection and energy efficiency will increase the cost of project power, the district said it still would be less costly than alternative sources of electricity.

Upon completion of a program to install upgraded turbines at Wanapum, the development’s generating capacity is to increase to 1,038 MW, bringing the total authorized installed capacity for the entire project to 1,893 MW from 1,755 MW, FERC said. Grant County PUD has completed replacing turbines in three of the ten units.

Idaho studies replacing Teton Dam, enlarging Minidoka

In an initiative to secure more reservoir storage in the state, the Idaho Legislature is funding studies of replacing the failed Teton Dam and enlarging the 27.7-MW Minidoka Dam. Lawmakers also urged state and federal officials to study those projects and others.

The Legislature appropriated $400,000 to study the feasibility of replacing Teton Dam, which failed more than 30 years ago. Money for the studies is included in a water projects bill signed by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in April.

Teton Dam, considered the last major dam built in the West, was completed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1976 near Rexburg, Idaho. It failed June 5, 1976, on the first filling of the reservoir. The failure killed 11 people and caused millions of dollars in property damage along Idaho’s Teton River.

The bill also includes $1.4 million for the Idaho Water Resource Board to determine the feasibility of enlarging Reclamation’s 27.7-MW Minidoka Dam. Built in 1909, Minidoka is one of the first dam-building projects authorized by Congress and the third hydroelectric plant to be built by Reclamation.

Resolution promotes studying water storage projects

The Legislature also adopted a joint resolution calling for state and federal agencies to cooperate in feasibility studies of additional water storage projects, including Teton, Minidoka, Twin Springs Dam on the Middle Fork of the Boise River, and Galloway and Lost Valley dams on the Weiser River.

California agency approves San Vicente Dam raise

San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) endorsed a $568 million proposal to add 117 feet to the top of 220-foot-tall San Vicente Dam, creating 152,000 acre-feet of additional water storage in southern California.

The SDCWA board voted to certify an environmental impact report on increasing the height of the concrete gravity dam by 117 feet, providing for additional capacity for emergency water storage and increasing the reliability and flexibility of the region’s water supply.

The board endorsed increasing the dam’s height 63 feet beyond a previously approved 54-foot increase. The additional increase would provide 100,000 acre-feet of “carryover” storage from wet years to supplement imported supplies during dry periods. The 54-foot increase would provide 52,000 acre- feet for use during emergencies.

The additional 152,000 acre-feet of water could meet 40 percent of San Diego County’s needs for a year, the water authority said.

Roller-compacted concrete (RCC) would be used to expand the existing dam, which can store 90,000 acre-feet. The dam-heightening project would be the largest in the U.S. and among the largest in the world using RCC.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2009 and to be completed in late 2012. The city of San Diego, which owns the dam and reservoir, already has begun lowering the reservoir’s water level in preparation for the project. The reservoir is expected to reopen to recreation between 2014 and 2017.

The project is one component of the water authority’s $1.2 billion Emergency Storage Project, which is to provide up to six months of water if a natural disaster such as an earthquake cuts off the region’s imported water supplies.

Although San Vicente has no hydropower, SDCWA holds a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study developing a 570-MW pumped-storage project using San Vicente Reservoir as its lower reservoir.

PPL invests $4.7 million to recommission Maine’s Orono

PPL Corp. intends to spend $4.7 million to renovate and recommission the 2.3-MW Orono hydroelectric project on Maine’s Penobscot River, increasing capacity to 3 MW.

Work will include construction of a concrete penstock to replace a failed wooden penstock that idled the project in 1996.

The plant’s turbine-generators are expected to begin generating by 2009, said Dennis Murphy, president of PPL’s Eastern Fossil and Hydro Generation unit. PPL anticipates the plant will generate 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually.

Orono is PPL’s second expansion of hydropower generation under terms of a 2004 salmon restoration pact for the Penobscot River. Under terms of the accord, PPL agreed to sell three hydroelectric projects in exchange for provisions letting it improve its remaining projects to retain more than 90 percent of original generation.

In mid-2006, PPL increased the output of its 3.44-MW Medway, 13-MW West Enfield, and 1.95-MW Stillwater projects by 10,000 MWh. That work involved adding flashboards to each of the Penobscot River dams.

PPL, which is headquartered in Allentown, Pa., purchased Orono in 1999 as part of a package of assets from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

PPL plans expansion projects totaling $500 million

PPL said it plans to spend more than $500 million on hydroelectric expansions in Maine, Montana, and Pennsylvania over the next several years.

In addition to Orono, expansions are being carried out at 35-MW Rainbow Dam in Montana and the 107.2-MW Holtwood project in Pennsylvania.

Earlier in 2008, PPL authorized $175 million to build a new 60-MW Rainbow plant on the Missouri River that will replace the 35-MW Rainbow plant, part of the 326.9-MW Missouri-Madison project. (See Industry News, Hydro Review, June 2008.) PPL hopes to begin construction in spring 2009 on the 125-MW Holtwood Expansion, a $300 million addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood project on the Susquehanna River.

Corps meets to strategize ways to support federal hydro

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a two-day strategic planning workshop May 13-14, 2008, in Las Vegas to identify ways to increase support of federal hydropower. The Corps will incorporate ideas discussed at the workshop into its strategic planning process for hydropower, said Kamau Sadiki, national hydropower business line program manager.

More than 115 representatives of the Corps and other federal hydro producers, power marketing administrations, and electric associations gathered to discuss how to: more effectively fund the Corps’ hydropower program for long-term sustainability and reliability; mitigate effects to hydropower as a result of water storage reallocations; and develop a communication strategy to promote the value of federal hydropower to decision makers and the public.

The Corps owns about a quarter of all hydroelectric generating capacity in the U.S. at its 75 projects, according to Sadiki. As an agency of the federal government, the Corps is not allowed to profit from the power that it produces. Thus, the Corps delivers the power it produces to federal power marketing administrations that charge their customers cost-based fees for the hydroelectricity.

The Corps relies on federal appropriations to fund the majority of its civil works functions, which includes operation and maintenance, some new construction, and engineering and technical services for hydropower. Owing to rehabilitation and repairs needed at aging projects – many constructed as early as the 1930s and with an average age of 46 years – these federal appropriations often are not adequate. Customer funding agreements have provided some relief. However, to ensure continued reliable operation of these structures, the Corps needs to find additional funding sources to invest more money in major rehabilitation work and improvements, Sadiki says.

Among the ideas recommended were public/private equity partnerships, access to revenue receipts from the power produced, increased appropriated and customer funding, and better joint planning between federal hydropower agencies.

Sadiki says the Corps will identify recommendations from the workshop that merit further action, develop action plans, and identify teams and schedules for implementing these actions.

Brookfield acquires historic 17.9-MW Ford project

Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. is the new owner of Ford Motor Co.’s historic 17.9-MW Ford hydroelectric project in St. Paul, Minn.

Ford Motor Co. chose Brookfield from pre-qualified bidders to purchase the project on the Mississippi River. Ford Motor Land Development Corp., a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co., handled the sale. Brookfield announced the transaction was completed in April.

The hydro plant generates about 1,000 megawatt-hours annually, which Brookfield said would be sold into the Midwestern wholesale electricity market.

The Ford project, previously known as Twin Cities, features a dam and an 83-year-old power plant. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dam in 1917 in anticipation of hydropower. Ford completed the hydro plant in 1924.

Xcel Energy returns 14-MW Shoshone to service

Xcel Energy announced it completed a $12 million repair job at its 14-MW Shoshone hydroelectric plant east of Glenwood Springs, Colo., and returned the plant to service.

Xcel said it spent, as originally projected, about $12 million to restore Shoshone to service within ten months of a penstock failure that closed the plant.

Xcel shut down the 98-year-old plant in June 2007, when one of its two penstocks ruptured, possibly due to corrosion. The failure caused flooding of the powerhouse and switching yard.

Crews rebuilt both of the project’s penstocks with steel pipe inserts. Generators for the project’s two turbines were rewound. The company also replaced all breakers, control cabinets, wiring, and related components. Controls either were updated or replaced, with the control system redesigned to enhance remote control.

Smith receives Henwood award from NHA

W.B. “Bill” Smith, a civil engineer and consultant, is recipient of the National Hydropower Association’s 2008 Kenneth Henwood award for lifetime achievements and contributions to the hydropower industry.

The award was presented at NHA’s 2008 annual conference in Washington, D.C. It is the highest honor NHA confers upon an industry member, recognizing individual leadership and dedication to hydropower as an energy technology.

To earn the distinction, honorees must show persistence in the face of institutional obstacles, exhibit “fair dealing and plain speaking,” and appreciate the relationships between project engineering, the environment, and economics.

Smith is president of HISINC LLC, a consulting firm he launched in Tulsa, Okla., in 2000. He has been involved with NHA and its predecessor industry groups for more than 30 years. Smith served as NHA’s president and founded the organization’s international committee.

W.B. “Bill” Smith, a civil engineer and consultant, (center) received the 2008 Kenneth Henwood Award from Don Clarke, chairman of the selection committee (left), and Rick Miller, National Hydropower Association President (right). The award is the highest honor NHA bestows upon an individual member. Click here to enlarge image

“Bill Smith’s passion for advancing hydropower technologies – and bringing its environmental, energy, and economic benefits to people throughout the world – are unmatched,” NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said. “Thanks to his determination and drive, people everywhere from small-town Arkansas to rural Guatemala enjoy the benefits of having a reliable, affordable resource like hydropower in their regions.”

Smith joined the Tulsa engineering firm Benham-Holway Power Group after graduating from the University of Missouri at Rolla. During his 27-year tenure with the firm, Smith eventually became executive vice president.

NHA said Smith is a tireless advocate for the hydropower industry, noting he has led hydropower development projects throughout the U.S. and in more than 26 countries. Smith continues to pursue new hydropower projects through his consulting work.

NHA established the award in 1990 in memory of Kenneth Henwood, an NHA board member, engineer, and project developer who died while working on a project in California.

FERC certifies tax credits for New England projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified incremental hydropower generation at three New England projects to be eligible for renewable energy production tax credits offered by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

70.8-MW Penobscot Mills

FERC certified incremental generation for efficiency improvements from turbine runner upgrades at the East Millinocket and Millinocket powerhouses, part of the 70.8-MW Penobscot Mills project in Maine.

Licensee Great Lakes Hydro America LLC reported it completed upgrades in May 2007 and March 2008 on Unit 2 and Unit 1 at East Millinocket. At Millinocket, it returned four units to service from Dec. 18, 2006, to Aug. 20, 2007.

For East Millinocket, FERC certified a historical generation baseline of 38,040 megawatt-hours (MWh) and incremental generation of 3,800 MWh. Generation due to the improvements totaled 10 percent. For Millinocket, FERC certified historical generation of 201,500 MWh and incremental generation totaling 13,400 MWh. Generation due to improvements totaled 6.66 percent.

19.2-MW Mattaceunk

FERC certified incremental generation at the 19.2-MW Mattaceunk hydroelectric project in Maine.

FERC certified incremental generation totaling 7,100 MWh from upgrades to Mattaceunk Units 1 and 2, completed in the fall of 2005. Each unit contributed 3,550 MWh to incremental generation, which represents a 6.5 percent overall increase in generation.

Mattaceunk, also known as Weldon station, is located on the Penobscot River. Licensee Great Lakes Hydro America LLC converted all four of the project’s units to 60 Hertz from 40 Hertz and upgraded the runners. However, two of the units were upgraded in 2005 before the Aug. 8, 2005, effective date of the production tax credit.

2.7-MW Woronoco

FERC certified incremental generation for Woronoco Hydro LLC’s 2.7-MW Woronoco project on the Westfield River in Massachusetts. Work at the project, completed in March, included adding capacity, upgrading of turbine-generators, and operating control and maintenance.

The commission certified a historical generation baseline of 6,773 MWh, generation with improvements of 9,936 MWh, and incremental generation of 3,163 MWh. The improvements increased generation by 46.7 percent.

37.6-MW Black River earns low-impact certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) certified Brookfield Renewable Power’s 37.6-MW Black River complex in New York as “low-impact” hydropower.

The Black River project consists of six developments along the Black River in Jefferson County, N.Y. Five upstream developments are licensed as the 29.6-MW Black River project, while the Beebee Island development is licensed separately as 8-MW Beebee Island.

LIHI’s governing board noted Black River is Brookfield Renewable Power’s seventh application for LIHI certification. The seven projects include 36 dams and a combined installed capacity of more than 300 MW.

William Garrard, a student at Pennsylvania State University, received the National Hydropower Association’s first Past Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship Award. Click here to enlarge image

The voluntary LIHI program is designed to help consumers identify environmentally sound, low-impact facilities for emerging “green” energy markets.

Since 2001, LIHI has certified nearly three dozen hydro facilities it says demonstrate minimal effects on fish and wildlife.

NHA names Garrard legacy scholarship winner

William Garrard, a student at Pennsylvania State University, received the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) first Past Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship Award.

Garrard, who will be a senior at Penn State during the 2008-2009 school year, is pursuing an undergraduate degree in information science and technology.

He accepted the $2,000 scholarship at NHA’s 2008 annual conference in Washington.

Garrard said he hopes to use his education to help turn society to a more sustainable and clean energy future.

“Hydropower, since it is already well established, will prove to be a leading component in any change,” Garrard said. “It can be seen quite thoroughly that my planned future as a proponent of renewable energy, in particular hydropower, will provide me with the opportunities to dramatically affect the natural world and the betterment of society.”

Garrard, a Murrysville, Pa., resident, credits his training as an Eagle Scout for awakening him to the need to balance energy and environmental needs.

NHA established the Past Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship Award in 2008 to help the next generation of industry leaders complete their educations. Funded with donations from NHA’s previous presidents and other contributors, the scholarship will serve as a legacy for the hydropower industry, the association said.

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be full-time juniors, seniors, or graduate students with a 3.0 grade point average at an accredited college, or have the equivalent average at an accredited vocational school.

Puget Energy shareholders, FERC approve merger

Shareholders of Washington-based Puget Energy Inc., and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, approved the $7.4 billion merger of Puget and an international investment consortium led by the Macquarie Group.

Puget Energy is the parent company of Puget Sound Energy, which owns and controls transmission, distribution, and generation facilities, including hydropower, in the Pacific Northwest. The Macquarie Group is a non-operating holding company that, through affiliates, owns infrastructure assets throughout the world.

Puget Energy shareholders in April overwhelmingly approved the merger, proposed by the Macquarie-led group in 2007. Under the terms of the deal, Puget shareholders are entitled to receive $30 in cash in exchange for each share of Puget Energy common stock they own.

IFM acquires Allco equity in Con Edison plant purchase

Industry Funds Management Pty Ltd. (IFM) announced it would take over Allco Finance Group’s equity position in the approximately $1.5 billion purchase of Consolidated Edison power plants totaling 1,706 MW. The purchase includes five small hydroelectric projects in Massachusetts.

Consolidated Edison subsidiary Consolidated Edison Development said the hydro plants involved in the sale are part of Consolidated Edison Energy Massachusetts Inc.: 1.5-MW Dwight, 3.6-MW Gardners Falls, 3.7-MW Indian Orchard, 3.9-MW Putts Bridge, and 4.5-MW Red Bridge.

NHA names stewards of America’s waters

Five utilities were selected for the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) 2008 “Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters” award. The award recognizes development of a project or program that exemplifies best practices in producing renewable energy, the association said.

Brookfield Renewable Power was recognized for work at its 38.8-MW School Street facility in Cohoes, N.Y., where it enhanced aesthetics at the popular scenic destination.

Accepting the National Hydropower Association’s 2008 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award are, from left to right: Tom Uncher, Brookfield Renewable Power; Colleen McShane, Seattle City Light; Betty Ferguson, San Diego County Water Authority; Dick Robert, Chelan County Public Utility District; and Steve Onken, Yuba County Water Agency. Click here to enlarge image

Seattle City Light was named for its multi-faceted collaborative effort with stakeholders, including the Skagit Watershed Council, three Skagit tribes, and the Nature Conservancy. Those efforts included developing and implementing fish recovery plans, completing research to guide recovery actions, acquiring and restoring critical freshwater and estuarine habitats, and building support for multi-species fish recovery in the Skagit River watershed.

Yuba County Water Agency was recognized for the retrofit of a bypass to its existing dam and powerhouse at the 46.8-MW Narrows 2 project. In the event the Narrows 2 powerhouse shuts down, the bypass will maintain optimum flow and water temperature to sustain fisheries in the Yuba River, protecting threatened spring-run Chinook salmon and helping to preserve the last self-sustaining wild steelhead population in California’s Central Valley.

Chelan County Public Utility District was named for its program of upgrades to improve safety and security at facilities throughout its system. The effort includes a $3.8 million network that protects people, dams, transmission lines, distribution infrastructure, water and wastewater systems, fiber-optic lines, buildings, and computers.

San Diego County Water Authority was named for the construction of the 4.5-MW Rancho Penasquitos Pressure Control Hydroelectric Facility. The project improves the flexibility of pipeline operations, eliminating the limitation of unidirectional water flow and increasing the ability to keep water moving to member agencies.

NHA’s selection panel, including representatives from industry, environmental, and recreational interests, chose the winners, based on project or program challenge, innovation, collaboration with stakeholders, and results.

Details of the programs and projects are available on the Internet at www. NHA honored the five winners during its annual conference in April.

Briefly …

Brookfield Renewable Power, a subsidiary of Canada-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., is successor to Brookfield Power Inc. and its subsidiary, Brookfield Power Corp. Brookfield Power Inc. and Brookfield Power Corp. combined to become Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. … The Michigan Audubon Society presented its Environmental Business Award to hydropower project owner Consumers Energy. The award recognizes the utility’s contributions to preserve and improve the environment, including the reintroduction of native trumpeter swans near its hydroelectric projects along the Au Sable River… Duke Energy Foundation donated $1 million toward development of the Museum of Life and the Environment, which will tell the story of the Catawba River in South Carolina and the river’s effect on the area and its people. Duke Energy’s first hydroelectric project, 60-MW Wylie Dam, sits near the site of the proposed museum, on the outskirts of Fort Mill.

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