Industry News

PPL Montana board approves 60-MW Rainbow powerhouse

PPL Montana’s board of directors authorized $175 million to construct a 60-MW hydro plant on the Missouri River. PPL says it will replace the existing eight-unit, 35-MW Rainbow powerhouse, part of the eight-powerhouse, 326.9-MW Missouri-Madison project.

The new plant will be built about 200 feet downstream of the existing facility. The original powerhouse will be closed after the new one begins service.

Plans for the new Rainbow powerhouse are included in PPL Montana’s operating license for the Missouri-Madison project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued that license in 2000, effective through August 2040.

PPL Montana says it plans to begin construction in spring 2009 and expects the plant to be in service two years later. The plant is to feature a single 60-MW turbine of an improved “fish friendly” design. Construction is subject to federal, state, and local approvals.

“The redevelopment of our Rainbow hydroelectric plant will add renewable energy in an environmentally friendly way and help meet the region’s need for new sources of clean, reliable electricity generation,” PPL Montana Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brad Spencer said.

Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to help fund Lake Livingston

National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC) secured a $10.2 million allocation of Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREB) authority for East Texas Electric Cooperative’s 24-MW Lake Livingston hydro project.

Lake Livingston is among 312 projects declared eligible by the Internal Revenue Service in 2008 for more than $400 million in tax-credit bond allocations under the federal government’s CREB program. Eighteen hydropower projects were included in the group declared eligible for the bond allocations.

The cooperative says it expects to file an environmental assessment and license application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by March 2009. FERC approved the cooperative’s request to use FERC’s alternative licensing process, rather than the integrated licensing process.

Under the CREB program, CFC must issue bonds for the Lake Livingston project before the end of 2008, according to Michael McCarty of Brickfield, Burchette, Ritts & Stone, a law firm representing East Texas Electric. McCarty said issuance of the bonds before the FERC license would not affect the bonds’ marketability.

CREB program rules allow the borrower several years to spend the CREB proceeds. McCarty said East Texas Electric would have no difficulty reimbursing qualified project capital costs with bond proceeds within allowable time constraints.

The project would include the Trinity River Authority’s 14,400-foot-long Lake Livingston Dam, which was damaged by Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and later repaired. It would feature a reinforced concrete powerhouse and three vertical-shaft Kaplan turbines and direct-drive synchronous generators.

East Texas Electric is developing the project in cooperation with the city of Houston and the Trinity River Authority. Engineering design, environmental studies, and other FERC licensing activities already are in progress.

The total estimated cost for developing the project is $72 million, McCarty said. If construction begins in early 2010, hydropower facilities would be commissioned in early 2012.

The Lake Livingston project is expected to use existing water releases to generate 124 gigawatt-hours annually, enough to power 12,000 households. East Texas Electric would sell the electricity at wholesale to its member electric cooperatives. The project also is expected to help Texas meet requirements for use of renewable energy and would offset 64,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants.

Corps awards fish passage contract for Elk Creek Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $7.9 million contract to an Oregon firm to cut a fish passage notch through the partially built Elk Creek Dam northeast of Medford, Ore.

The Corps’ Portland District awarded the contract to McMillen-McDougall of Tualatin, Ore.

Legal challenges halted construction of the dam in the 1970s, although Congress eventually appropriated funds to resume construction in fiscal year 1985. However, dam completion subsequently was halted by an injunction that the Corps chose not to contest further.

McMillen-McDougall is to design and carry out a project to remove a section of the dam and return Elk Creek to its original alignment and gradient through the resulting notch. The Corps said the realignment provides the most cost-effective and biologically sound way of providing “hands-off” mitigation of coho salmon and other native fish.

Work was scheduled to start in mid-May, with most of the construction of the notch itself occurring between early June and late July, the Corps said. The creek is expected to be restored to its original channel and a fish trap-and-haul facility removed by mid-September.

The Corps asked McMillen-McDougall to keep as much of the dam structure intact as possible. The Corps included that provision in the contract in response to concerns expressed by local government leaders and agencies, who said future flood control and water storage might be needed.

“This project will provide passive fish passage that meets our responsibility under the Endangered Species Act, while still preserving the majority of the federal investment should future generations decide the dam should be completed,” Portland District Commander Col. Thomas O’Donovan said.

New NHA officers, board members named

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) board elected officers for 2008-2009.

Rick Miller Click here to enlarge image

Rick Miller, executive vice president and chief executive officer for Devine Tarbell & Associates, is president. Other officers are:

    – Vice President Janet Audunson, an attorney with Hiscock and Barclay LLP and a former utility chief executive officer;
    –Secretary Julie Keil, director of hydro licensing for Portland General Electric; and
    –Treasurer John Dulude, relicensing manager for Santee Cooper.

NHA also announced its members elected five new directors to the association’s board:

    –Randy Baysinger, Turlock Irrigation District, California;
    –E. Mark Garner, Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation;
    –David Montgomery Moore, Troutman Sanders;
    –Julie Smith-Galvin, Brookfield Power; and
    –Jim Thrasher, American Electric Power.

These five will serve for three years; they join 12 returning board members:

    –Tim Brush, Normandeau Associates;
    –Leslie Eden, HCI Publications, past president;
    –Gregory Lewis, Duke Energy;
    –George Martin, Georgia Power Co., past president;
    –David Moller, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.;
    –Andrew Munro, Grant County Public Utility District;
    –David Youlen, Brookfield Power, past president; and
    –Debbie Young, Tacoma Power.

In addition, the board appointed five advisory (non-voting) members to one-year terms:

    –Gene Allison, Southern Co.;
    –John Claybrook, North American Phoenix Energy Services;
    – Suzanne Grassell, Chelan County Public Utility District;
    –John Ragonese, TransCanada; and
    –Ed Schild, Puget Sound Energy.

Taum Sauk reconstruction to boost Missouri economy

Utility AmerenUE reports a university study found the reconstruction of the breached upper reservoir of the 408-MW Taum Sauk pumped-storage project will add 635 jobs in southeast Missouri and boost state income by $48 million.

Taum Sauk has not operated since the reservoir’s ring dam breached Dec. 14, 2005, releasing 1.4 billion gallons of water down the Black River, injuring nine people, and damaging property, including Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. A Missouri Public Service Commission investigation cited a failure of utility management for the breach.

AmerenUE and the state signed a settlement agreement in November 2007 in which AmerenUE will pay $177.35 million in compensation and remediation.

The study by the Center for Economic and Business Research of Southeast Missouri State University also found the additional economic benefits from the $450 million reconstruction project.

Of the estimated 300 people expected to be employed to rebuild the dam, 177 will be from the ten-county region and will earn about $17 million annually for each of the projected two years of reconstruction. Spending by those contract employees is expected to add employment and income in other sectors creating another 95 jobs in the region and a total of 248 in the state. Additional construction spending over two years is expected to add another 87 jobs.

AmerenUE has said it will not attempt to recover from ratepayers any of the breach-related costs or compensation. It said insurance is expected to cover substantially all settlement costs and the costs of rebuilding the reservoir.

Projects in four states earn low-impact certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Insti-tute (LIHI) certified 37.6-MW Black River complex in New York, 350-kW Boulder Creek in Montana, 48-MW Lake Chelan in Washington, 2.2-MW Newton Falls in New York, and 15.8-MW Willamette Falls in Oregon as “low-impact” hydropower.

LIHI said the projects are among nearly three dozen hydro facilities it has certified since 2001. LIHI says its voluntary program helps identify environmenttally sound facilities for green energy markets; the projects demonstrate minimal effects on fish and wildlife.

Black River

Brookfield Renewable Power owns and operates the six-development Black River complex in Jefferson County, New York. The five most upstream developments are licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the 29.6-MW Black River project; the sixth development is licensed by FERC as the 8-MW Beebee Island project.

Boulder Creek

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes own Boulder Creek, on Boulder Creek in northwest Montana. A corporation owned by the tribes operates the run-of-river project.

Lake Chelan

Chelan County Public Utility District owns and operates the Lake Chelan project on the Chelan River near Chelan, Wash. The project features a 55-mile-long glacial lake, 40-foot-tall concrete gravity dam, and two-unit powerhouse. It generates about 380,871 megawatt-hours annually.

Newton Falls

Brookfield Power owns and operates 2.2-MW Newton Falls, which features two dams and powerhouses, the Upper and Lower developments. The project, on the Oswegatchie River, in Clifton, N.Y., generates about 9,500 MWh annually.

Willamette Falls

Portland General Electric (PGE) owns and operates Willamette Falls, on the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn, in north-central Oregon. The project features one operating powerhouse built in 1895, the 13-unit T.W. Sullivan development. PGE is in the process of decommissioning a second powerhouse, the Blue Heron Paper Co. development, shut down in 2003.

Willamette Falls operates in a run-of-river mode and does not provide water storage or flood control, LIHI said. Additionally, it said, PGE is implementing measures and building facilities to improve fish passage at the project.

Bridge collapse prompts delay at 9-MW Lower St. Anthony

Acknowledging delays caused by the collapse of an Interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted the 9-MW Lower St. Anthony Falls project two more years to begin and complete construction.

Licensee SAF Hydroelectric LLC said progress toward beginning construction at the Minnesota project was halted Aug. 1, 2007, when the Interstate 35 bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. The bridge is 400 feet downstream of the project site, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.

SAF said recovery efforts and debris removal from the disaster site blocked its access to the project for several months. It said lack of access prevented the licensee from conducting a diving inspection and other tasks to complete construction documents.

FERC said SAF’s reasons for the extension were reasonable. The new deadlines for starting and completing the project are Feb. 20, 2010, and Feb. 20, 2012.

VA Tech Hydro USA, a unit of Andritz VA Tech Hydro, is to provide 16 StrafloMatrix turbine-generators for the project. Hydropower owner Brookfield Power holds a partial ownership interest in SAF Hydroelectric.

Northwest hydro group names officers, directors

Lewis Wardle of Idaho Power Co. is serving as president of the Northwest Hydropower Association (NWHA) for 2008. Other members of the 2008 leadership team are: Lisa Larson of Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Inc., vice president; Laurel Heacock of Grant County Public Utility District, secretary; and Heidi Wahto of Hatch Acres, treasurer.

In addition to the officers, who were elected for one-year terms, NWHA named four members to its board.

Those members, who are beginning three-year terms, are: John Gangemi of OASIS Environmental; Suzanne Grassell of Chelan County Public Utility District and immediate past NWHA president; Janet White of EES Consulting Inc.; and NWHA President Wardle.

They join ten other directors on the board:

    –Gale Banry, Eugene Water and Electric Board;
    –Diane Barr, PacifiCorp;
    –Rick Dieker, Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District;
    –Wayne Dyok, Tetra Tech Inc.;
    –John Esler, Portland General Electric;
    –Chuck Everett, EDAW Inc.;
    –Jerry Fish, Stoel Rives LLP;
    –Steve Johnson, Central Oregon Irrigation District;
    –Patti Kroen, KROEN; and
    –Bruce Meaker, Snohomish County Public Utility District.

FERC certifies tax credit for 2,164-MW Bath County

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified incremental generation at the 2,164-MW Bath County pumped-storage project in Virginia to be eligible for federal renewable energy production tax credits.

FERC issued an order certifying incremental generation gained from overhaul and modernization of three pump-turbine units at the project, on Back and Little Back creeks in Bath County.

Based upon information provided by licensee Dominion Resources, FERC certified incremental generation of 17,191,692 kilowatt-hours (kWh), based on 5,730,564 kWh for each unit. The improvements resulted in a 0.145 percent increase in generation for each of the three units, and a total increase of 0.435 percent. FERC also certified the historical generation baseline for the project’s six units – generation before the improvements – to average 3,952,113,100 kWh.

In requesting certification, Dominion Resources cited work performed in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Units 1, 3, and 6 were retrofitted with improved runners, wicket gates, stay vanes, and wearing rings. Unit 3 re-entered operation March 2006. Unit 6 re-entered operation in March 2007. Unit 1 was scheduled to resume operation in April 2008.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 applies the federal tax credit incentive to incremental production from efficiency improvements or capacity additions made to existing hydroelectric facilities placed in service after Aug. 8, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2009.

Since 2005, FERC has certified incremental generation at more than a dozen other hydroelectric projects for renewable energy production tax credits.

Kentucky utilities buy credits from 2-MW Mother Ann Lee

The 2-MW Mother Ann Lee hydro project will be the primary provider of renewable energy credits for Louisville Gas & Electric’s and Kentucky Utilities’ “Green Energy” program.

Project licensee Lock 7 Hydro Partners LLC said a third-party broker, 3Degrees Group Inc., agreed to purchase all renewable energy credits generated by the project, which is being renovated. 3Degrees will supply the credits to E.ON U.S., an energy services company that owns both Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities, for the companies’ Green Energy program.

Under the program guidelines, customers can join for $5 or more per month. For each $5, the utilities will purchase 300 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits from Lock 7 Hydro Partners, allowing customers to offset the carbon impact of their electricity usage.

Lock 7 Hydro Partners bought the retired Lock 7 hydro plant in December 2005. The plant, at Lock and Dam 7 on the Kentucky River near Harrodsburg, Ky., is adjacent to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill and sits on land at one time owned by the Shakers, a religious sect that flourished in the nineteenth century. Once known as the Lock 7 project, the project was renamed in honor of the founder of the Shakers.

Lock 7 Hydro Partners is a partnership between Shaker Landing Hydro Associates of Louisville and Salt River Electric. Shaker Landing Hydro Associates is renovating the plant under contract to Lock 7 Hydro Partners.

Renovations began in March 2006. One generator became operational in March 2007. A second began operation in October 2007. A third unit is being rehabilitated, with operation expected in late 2008.

Once fully renovated, the plant is expected to produce 8,300 megawatt-hours and eliminate 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Toshiba buys stake in Hydro Power Services

Toshiba International Corp. purchased an ownership interest in Hydro Power Services LLC (HPS) of Chattanooga, Tenn. The companies say the purchase strengthens their capabilities in the North American hydro market.

Toshiba’s Hydro Electric Power Group of Englewood, Colo., and HPS said their new business relationship, which they called a strategic alliance, would provide customers in North America a team of experts in manufacturing, engineering, equipment supplies, and installation services for hydropower plants.

Toshiba did not disclose the cost or percentage of ownership in HPS. The Tennessee company will continue to serve as an independent provider of services to the hydro industry, Toshiba said.

ADS acquires Condor Solutions

ADS LLC announced it acquired Condor Solutions Inc., a research and development company headquartered in Huntsville, Ala.

ADS LLC develops and provides technology-based products and services for the hydroelectric industry through ADS Environmental Services, Hydra-Stop, and Accusonic Technologies. ADS says the acquisition of Condor will enhance its R&D efforts.

ADS, also headquartered in Huntsville, announced the acquisition. It is a subsidiary of Nova Technologies Corp.

Stantec acquires Woodlot Alternatives

Woodlot Alternatives now is part of Stantec, a provider of design and consulting services in planning, engineering, architecture, surveying, economics, and project management.

Woodlot Alternatives, a 65-person consulting firm based in Topsham, Maine, specializes in natural resource assessment, permitting, and environmental engineering. Past work involved the ecological risk assessment and restoration of the Housatonic River in Massachusetts, and removal of two dams on the Penobscot River in Maine.

Woodlot Alternatives, which announced the acquisition, now is known as Stantec. Its former president, John Lortie, was named a vice president at Stantec.

Briefly …

Hydropower project owner and operator PG&E Corp. ranks tenth among all companies in an annual list of 100 best corporate citizens, as determined by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine. PG&E was the only energy company to score among the top ten for its overall performance. The magazine evaluated 1,000 large companies and ranked the leaders in eight categories, including climate change and the environment.

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