Industry News

FERC cancels permit for Don Pedro Pumped-Storage

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has canceled the preliminary permit of Don Pedro Hydro LLC, a Symbiotics LLC affiliate, to study development of the 1,000-MW Don Pedro Pumped-Storage project on California’s Tuolumne River.

FERC issued a Feb. 6 order canceling the permit, issued in April 2012, due to the company’s failure to submit a six-month progress report by Oct. 21, 2013. Don Pedro Hydro’s only progress report, filed in October 2012, said it had focused on “information retrieval and basic data research to assist in refining the project concepts and economic feasibility.”

The company proposed using the existing Don Pedro Reservoir as its lower reservoir and constructing an upper reservoir and powerhouse containing four 250-MW pump-turbines. The existing reservoir is part of the 168.015-MW Don Pedro project licensed to the Tuolumne Irrigation District and Modesto Irrigation District. The irrigation districts objected to the original preliminary permit application, saying it is FERC policy to deny permit applications where a proposed development would infringe on a licensed project without the licensee’s consent. FERC said the objection was speculative and that a preliminary permit allows study of a site to avoid such infringement.

The irrigation districts once held two preliminary permits to study an 880-MW pumped-storage project at the site but surrendered them in 2011, saying pumped storage at the site presented many “trade-offs, conflicts and obstacles.”

Brookfield Renewable acquires shares of 417-MW Safe Harbor

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P. has acquired a 33% interest in Pennsylvania’s 417-MW Safe Harbor plant, according to a quarterly results report. Brookfield Renewable said the company and its institutional partners have entered into an agreement to acquire a 33% economic share and 50% voting interest in the plant, which is on the Susquehanna River.

The acquisition is valued at US$289 million subject to working capital adjustment and will be funded through available liquidity and capital from Brookfield Renewable and its partners. The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals and was expected to be completed within the first quarter of this year.

“The acquisition of additional hydro capacity in the northeastern United States further demonstrates our ability to acquire renewable power assets on a value basis,” Brookfield Renewable President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Legault said.

California utility awards equipment contract

ORENCO Hydropower has been selected to supply a 320-kW water-to-wire equipment package for the Lincoln Metering and Hydroelectric Station. The micro-hydropower plant, being developed by the Placer County Water Agency, will be installed at an existing metering station near Lincoln, Calif.

The US45,000 order includes two vertical Francis turbines, induction generators, valves, switchgear and control systems. The turbines and generators are being sourced from Fuzhou Fang Yuan Machinery and Electricity of China, while the controls and switchgear will be supplied by Bat Electric of California.

The hydroelectric components will utilize one of the metering station’s existing pressure-reducing valves, meaning the civil works required are “minimal,” according to ORENCO.

Energy generated by the Lincoln plant will be supplied to the Pacific Gas & Electric grid. ORENCO expects the plant to be in operation by the end of this year.

FERC offers to help hydro licensees respond to California drought

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has advised 128 hydropower licensees, as well as state and federal resource agencies, that it will perform swift review of license amendment requests to conserve water during California’s drought.

In a Feb. 6 letter to licensees and agencies, FERC said a federal drought monitor map shows 9% of California is experiencing an exceptional drought, while two-thirds of the state is in extreme drought.

“To assist the licensees of hydropower projects in responding to the drought conditions, staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is prepared to act swiftly to review requests to amend licenses on a temporary or longer-term basis, as appropriate in order to conserve water resources at FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects,” wrote Director Edward Abrams of FERC’s Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance.

The commission said licensees interested in implementing water conservation measures should review their licenses to see which requirements might be temporarily modified to retain more water. It said licensees also should consult with state and federal resources agencies, Indian tribes and other appropriate entities to determine how to modify flow release requirements.

FERC said some licenses allow temporary deviations for short periods upon mutual agreement with resource agencies while others would require filing of temporary variance requests with the commission.

National Hydropower Association announces new leadership team

The National Hydropower Association announces its officers and advisory board members for 2014-15. The selection was finalized during the NHA Board of Directors meeting in January.

Marc Gerken of American Municipal Power was elected to a second term as president. He will be joined by Jane Cirrincione of Northern California, who is serving a second term as vice president. Meanwhile, Eric Van Duren of Pacific Gas & Electric will be treasurer, with Steve Wenke of Avista as secretary.

The officers will be joined on the NHA Board of Directors by Debbie Mursch, Alstom; Patrick McCarty, Tacoma Power; Ken Poletti, Exelon Power; Herbie Johnson, Southern Company; and Tom Heller, Missouri River Energy.

New to the advisory board are Paul Lau, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and David Sinclair, Advanced Hydro Solutions.

Colorado Senate approves bipartisan small hydro bill

The Colorado Senate approved bipartisan legislation that will streamline the development of small hydropower within the state. HB14-1030 streamlines state environmental review for small hydro projects without weakening or changing any underlying state environmental requirements, according to the Colorado Small Hydro Association.

The bill directs the Colorado Energy Office to facilitate project review by state agencies in a manner commensurate with federal agency timelines, making it possible for an applicant to simultaneously clear both federal and state reviews as quickly as 60 days for “non-controversial” projects.

The bill also streamlines the electrical inspection process by citing National Electrical Code (NEC) standards that electricians should be guided by when installing small hydro. According to COSHA, electrical inspectors will now determine if a project meets NEC standards for safety, quality and code compliance.

The bill received unanimous approval from the Colorado House Transportation and Energy Committee on Feb. 5. It now awaits a signature from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

FERC again rejects bid to qualify as small conduit hydro

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a rehearing request by KC Brighton LLC, licensee of the 400-kW Brighton project on the Patuxent River in Maryland, saying Brighton does not qualify as a small conduit project because it uses an 80-foot-tall, 995-foot-long dam.

FERC last year rejected an application from KC Brighton, which had applied to surrender the hydropower license it received from FERC in 1984 and be designated a qualifying conduit project that is excluded from FERC jurisdiction.

The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act removes from FERC jurisdiction new “qualifying conduit hydropower facilities” under 5 MW on water conduits. Projects seeking exclusion under HREA must use a tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal or industrial consumption and not primarily for electricity generation. The project must not exceed 5 MW, must use only the hydroelectric potential of a non-federally owned conduit, and must not have been issued a hydro license or exemption prior to Aug. 9, 2013, the effective date of HREA.

“On rehearing, KC Brighton argues, for the first time, that the Brighton Dam is ancillary to, and not needed for, the Brighton Dam Project,” FERC said Feb. 20. “Thus, KC Brighton reasons, its project is a qualifying conduit because, without the dam and reservoir, the project is a new development, i.e., one that was not previously licensed.”

“The project’s powerhouse is integral to the dam, and the dam provides nearly all of the head for the project’s electric generation,” FERC said. “The Brighton Dam therefore is part of the project’s complete unit of development.”

World’s largest hydro event three-peats as “Fastest 50” recipient

For the third consecutive year, HydroVision International, the world’s largest event dedicated to the hydroelectric power industry, has been recognized by Trade Show Executive as one of the fastest-growing tradeshows in the U.S. The “Fastest 50” award is determined based on the net square feet of exhibit space sold and the number of participating exhibitors.

HydroVision International 2013 – held in Denver, Colo. – boasted more than 3,100 attendees from 53 countries.

“In a time of tight budgets when staff travel often is getting cut, it’s gratifying to see attendance at HydroVision International continuing to grow so significantly. This growth demonstrates how important attendance at the event is to hydro professionals the world over,” said Marla Barnes, publisher of PennWell Corporation’s Hydro Group.

Represented at HydroVision International were hydropower producers; project developers; construction, law, consulting, engineering and financial firms; equipment manufacturers and suppliers; policy-makers and regulators; and resource agencies.

The 2014 event takes place July 22-25 at Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. For more, visit www.hydroevent.com.

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