Industry News

White River projects: 26 years in the making

Independence County, Ark., reports three small hydro projects totaling 11.3 MW at sites along a 20-mile stretch of Arkansas ’ White River will be completed in 2007. Licensees are planning an event for April 2007 to recognize construction milestones for White River Lock and Dam Nos. 1, 2, and 3, projects conceived in the 1980s.

Independence County is developing White River Lock and Dam No. 1 for the city of Batesville, Ark., the licensee, and is itself licensee for Lock and Dam Nos. 2 and 3. The projects are the outcome of efforts by the county and the city initiated in 1980 and 1981 to build hydro facilities to generate revenue.

The county issued tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance the projects.

The projects are located at, or near, existing locks and dams, and will cost about $32 million to build. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the locks and dams for navigation purposes in the early 1900s. The locks were used for navigation until the mid 1950s, when the Corps decommissioned them. At that time, Lock and Dam No. 1 was sold to the city of Batesville, and Lock and Dam Nos. 2 and 3 were sold to private interests.

White River Lock & Dam No. 3

The 3.9-MW White River No. 3 project was the first of the three to enter operation. It was declared substantially complete Aug. 22, 2006. However, the project is not expected to achieve full capacity until a 3-foot concrete cap is placed on top of the dam. While that work might not be completed until fall 2007, the No. 3 project is operating at restricted capacity, generating at about half capacity and selling electricity to the municipal utility for the city of Clarksville, Ark. The project ’s powerhouse, built on land adjacent to the dam on the opposite side of the river from the lock, is named the Shelby M. Knight Hydro Plant in honor of the family that leased project property to the county, which owns most of the project property.

White River Lock & Dam No. 2

White River Lock and Dam No. 2 is located about 12 miles downstream from No. 3. At the end of 2006, the 3.5-MW powerhouse, built inside the lock, was complete, and electrical and mechanical work was in progress (see photograph). The county owns the property encompassing the project. It readied the facility to be placed on line in January 2007.

White River Lock & Dam No. 1

White River Lock and Dam No. 1 is located 8 miles downstream of No. 2 inside the city of Batesville. At the end of 2006, civil work was in progress at the site, including excavation activities and work with concrete and rebar. The 3.9-MW project, also built inside a lock, is expected to be on line in March or April 2007. Batesville owns the property at the project.

Lyon College, a liberal arts college, will share in the net benefit of all three projects in return for its participation in the cost of permitting, licensing, and the donation of property required for construction of Lock and Dam Nos. 2 and 3.

Equipment, service providers contributed to projects

Independence County contracted with several companies for design, construction, and equipping of the projects.

North American Hydro LLC (Wis.) and subcontractor Acres International (now known as Hatch Energy) were responsible for project management and engineering. North American Hydro LLC also was responsible for balance-of-plant mechanical and electrical work. Mobley Contractors and subcontractor Koontz Electric did civil construction work. VA Tech Canada provided turbine-generator equipment, and TransTec Construction Inc. provided transmission line and design and construction services.

TransTec Construction assumed project management and quality assurance duties formerly performed by North American Hydro following expiration of a contract. North American Hydro and its subcontractor Hatch/Acres remained associated with the projects through a time and materials arrangement. Crist Engineers was the owner ’s representative, and also served as independent engineer.

Licensees name TransTec to manage and operate

TransTec Consulting of Conway, Ark., an affiliate of TransTec Construction, will manage, operate, and maintain the plants. Electricity from all three facilities will be sold to Clarksville Light & Water Corp., owned by the city of Clarksville, Ark., under a power purchase agreement. The county holds a long-term agreement with the Southwestern Power Administration for transmitting power to Clarksville.

Irrigation districts study 880-MW Don Pedro

The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts are studying the feasibility of building a 440-MW or 880-MW Don Pedro pumped-storage project at Don Pedro Reservoir, south of Sonora, Calif.

The districts filed a preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seeking to secure priority for the site while they study whether to seek a license. FERC issued notice of the application in November 2006.

Modesto Irrigation District authorized Turlock Irrigation District to serve as project manager.

The districts are co-licensees of an existing project, 168.015-MW Don Pedro, which includes Don Pedro Reservoir. The reservoir, impounding more than 2 million acre-feet, also would serve as the lower pool for the pumped-storage project.

The new project would include a new upper reservoir, conveyance tunnel, powerhouse, transmission lines, and other appurtenant facilities. Based on preliminary engineering studies, the districts identified two possible upper reservoir configurations.

Alternative A would feature a site near Moccasin Peak, about one-half mile north of Don Pedro Reservoir, for the upper reservoir of an 880-MW project. It would include a 465-foot-tall, 1,700-foot-long dam across a ravine, creating a small reservoir with a surface area of about 240 acres and 25,000 acre-feet of storage.

Alternative B would feature another site north of Don Pedro Reservoir for the upper reservoir of a 440-MW project. It would have a surface area of about 166 acres and about 13,000 acre-feet of storage. It would include a 285-foot-tall, 2,700-foot-long dam.

The applicants said they would refine the two alternatives over the 36-month term of the permit to select an optimal configuration for the project.

A partnership of the two irrigation districts, along with Hetch Hetchy Water and Power and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, built Don Pedro Dam and Reservoir in 1971.

GRDA plans major upgrade of 108-MW Markham Ferry

Oklahoma ’s Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is planning major upgrades of the four generators at Robert S. Kerr Dam powerhouse, part of its 108-MW Markham Ferry hydroelectric project.

Upgrades to the 42-year-old units will increase output, modernize the units, and lower maintenance costs, GRDA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley said. The units now produce a total average of 257 gigawatt-hours annually.

GRDA ’s board awarded a $72 million contract to Alstom Power to perform work on the units, installed from 1962-1964. It anticipates the work will increase capacity by 15 percent. Benham Engineering of Tulsa, Okla., the authority ’s consulting engineer, evaluated bids submitted for the upgrades.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a relicense order in August 2006, allowing GRDA to operate the project for 30 more years.

“This is important to GRDA and its customers because it allows us to move forward toward a goal of increasing the generation capacity at Kerr Dam, ” Easley said of the FERC relicensing. “We believe our hydroelectric facilities are tremendous assets for the state and we intend for them to be as efficient and productive as possible. ”

The relicense order does not reflect GRDA plans for the upgrades. Any increase in the project ’s authorized installed capacity is subject to FERC approval.

Robert S. Kerr Dam was completed in 1964 and was the second hydro project built on Oklahoma ’s Grand River. The project ’s original license was issued in 1955 and expired in 2005. Since that time, Markham Ferry had operated under a temporary annual license.

Utility sells bonds for 1,893-MW Priest Rapids

Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) authorized the sale of bonds exceeding $252 million to fund improvements to the Priest Rapids and Wanapum hydroelectric developments, which comprise the 1,893-MW Priest Rapids project on the Columbia River in Washington.

District commissioners voted in November 2006 to authorize issuance and sale of Priest Rapids development revenue and refunding bonds totaling about $65.7 million, and Wanapum bonds totaling about $186.3 million.

Of the Priest Rapids bond revenue, $60.27 million is to be used for generator restoration, powerhouse improvements, fish and wildlife programs, and other plant modernization activities. The remaining $5.43 million is to be used to refund prior bonds. Of the Wanapum bond revenue, $158.05 million is to be used for generator restoration, turbine replacements, powerhouse improvements, fish and wildlife programs, and other plant modernization activities. The remaining $28.275 million is to be used to refund prior bonds.

The expenditures are expected to be made during 2007 and 2008, Grant County PUD Treasurer Nick Gerde said.

In its relicense application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Grant County PUD proposes adding more than 225 MW of capacity through turbine upgrades at Wanapum and Priest Rapids. The upgrades would increase total capacity by 225.2 MW, to 1,994 MW from 1,768.8 MW. The licensee is installing new advanced design turbines to improve fish survival.

In November 2006, FERC staff issued a final environmental impact statement that endorsed relicensing the project.

Contractor tests equipment to redevelop 1.5-MW Harris Mill

Viking Power Services Inc. is advising New England Alternative Energy Corp. (NEAE) about whether to replace, repair, or refurbish a generator and turbine at the 1.5-MW Harris Mill hydroelectric project in Rhode Island.

Viking, of Manalapan, N.J., in October 2006 said it would begin testing and design work immediately as part of an effort to develop the mothballed hydro project at Harris Mill in Coventry.

Gov. Donald Carcieri previously announced plans to develop a new $1.5 million hydro project at Harris Mill, on the Pawtuxet River. The development is part of a program to increase renewable energy production in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Construction Services Inc. of Johnston, R.I., is developing Harris Mill with the help of a loan from the state ’s Renewable Energy Fund, private equity, and a bank loan.

Viking said it would test the existing generator and evaluate the maximum torque that can be generated by water flow, based on measurements provided by NEAE, of Johnston, R.I. From that work, Viking said it would advise NEAE on replacement, repair, or refurbishment of the generator and turbine.

Developer to rehabilitate site in Massachusetts

Indian River Power Supply LLC plans to rehabilitate a site on the Westfield River in Russell, Mass., once used for power generation. Generation at the site ceased in 1994.

The 700-kW project will be called Indian River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the site ’s owner an exemption from licensing requirements. The commission did so after dismissing a preliminary permit application filed by a competing developer, Alternative Light and Hydro Associates.

Standard terms and conditions of exemption from licensing require that the rehabilitation work must begin by Feb. 22, 2008. The work must be completed by Feb. 22, 2010.

Indian River Power Supply plans to install new electrical control equipment in the powerhouse, perform general maintenance of turbines and generators, and build a transmission line. It also plans to dredge debris from the forebay, install new trashracks on intakes, and reinstall 2-foot-tall flashboards on Russell Dam, a 30-foot-tall, 425-foot-long structure.

Indian River Power Supply plans to operate the project in a run-of-river mode. It also plans to install downstream fish passage facilities, and upstream and downstream eel passage facilities. It will develop a sediment removal plan, and a minimum flow plan for a bypassed reach. The company also will participate in a trap-and-truck program for Atlantic salmon.

Proposed reservoirs found technically viable

The Bureau of Reclamation and Washington Department of Ecology found proposals for two Yakima River Basin reservoirs to be technically viable, but not necessarily cost-effective, at least based on their preliminary review. (See “Hydro Currents, ” Hydro Review, October 2006.)

The agencies said they are moving into the feasibility phase of a storage study focusing on a Black Rock Dam and reservoir and a Wymer Dam and reservoir, both of which could include hydropower plants. Reclamation previously found both proposals sufficiently viable to merit further study.

“Both alternatives have high construction and annual operating costs and benefit/cost ratios considerably below 1, ” the latest report found.

However, the agencies said, the next feasibility phase will look more closely at the cost-benefit factors, in addition to implementing National Environmental Policy Act and Washington Environmental Policy Act processes.

“Further evaluation of the Black Rock and Wymer dams and reservoirs concepts, including options to the current alternatives, may show additional recreation, irrigation, fish, hydropower, or municipal benefits, and may, through downsizing of facilities or different operational scenarios, provide better benefit-cost ratios, ” the report said.

The agencies have narrowed their options to the two dams, plus a no-action alternative. The Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study, authorized by Congress in 2003, is to evaluate storage options to improve anadromous fish habitat, boost reliability of the 25-MW Yakima project ’s water supply during dry years, and provide water to meet future municipal demand. The Yakima project has six storage reservoirs, five diversion dams, and the 12-MW Chandler and 12.9-MW Roza hydropower developments.

Study report outlines possible hydro plants

The original Black Rock Dam and reservoir proposal called for storing up to 1.3 million acre-feet and could include as many as four new hydropower plants totaling more than 390 MW. (See “Hydro Currents, ” Hydro Review, October 2006.) However, in the new report, Reclamation said Black Rock Alternative includes two or three potential hydropower facilities, two Black Rock plants of 23 MW and 38 MW, and a 15- to 29.5-MW Sunnyside power plant. The report estimated two plants would generate a total of 249,000 megawatt-hours annually.

A proposal for Wymer Dam and Reservoir would feature a 415-foot-tall dam, outlet works designed at the appraisal level to permit the future addition of a hydropower plant, and a 174,000-acre-foot off-stream reservoir. The reservoir would be filled by pumping water from the Yakima River. The possibility for hydro generation when releasing water from the reservoir back into the river will be a consideration in future work, the parties said.

Massachusetts agency chooses hydro technical consultant

Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) awarded a master services agreement to Gomez and Sullivan Engineers to assist in a state-backed hydro project refurbishment program.

Gomez and Sullivan is serving as a hydropower technical consultant to help rehabilitate and expand hydropower projects in Massachusetts. MTC announced it chose the engineering firm from among five proposals submitted in response to a solicitation.

MTC, which is chartered by Massachusetts to advance technology-based solutions for economic growth, administers the state ’s Renewable Energy Trust Fund.

The request for proposals called for consultants to help hydropower project owners evaluate expansion and rehabilitation options for hydro projects that are either idle or have room for expansion. The consultant also is to help MTC staff evaluate the MTC program ’s ability to address hydropower needs and to develop new or modified initiatives to support the hydropower sector.

Brookfield Power supports New York museum, park

Brookfield Power is contributing more than half a million dollars to support a museum and park, both in New York State. The company owns and operates 72 hydro plants in the state.

Brookfield Power donated $500,000 to the Wild Center/Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks in Tupper Lake, N.Y. Several of the company ’s executives participated in the opening of the museum in 2006.

Brookfield is the exclusive sponsor of the museum ’s “Land of Deep, Dark Lakes ” exhibit. That exhibit features information on lake geology and inhabitants that have adapted to the cold water environment in the Adirondacks.

In the second donation, Brookfield Power provided more than $20,000 for Fraser Engineering to develop conceptual plans for redesign of the Col. Robert R. Craner Veterans Park in Cohoes, N.Y. The contribution also supported detailed design and construction work for the park across the street from Brookfield Power ’s 38.8-MW School Street hydro project.

APPA recognizes Cirrincione with leadership award

The American Public Power Association recognized Jane Dunn Cirrincione, assistant general manager of legislative and regulatory affairs for the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA), with its Robert E. Roundtree Rising Star award. The award recognizes future leaders of public power utilities.

Cirrincione was director of legislative programs for the National Hydropower Association (NHA) from 1990 to 1995. Prior to joining NHA, she worked for three years on Capitol Hill on environmental and energy issues for Rep. Don Edwards, D-Calif.

NCPA built, operates, and holds an exclusive power purchase agreement for the 257-MW North Fork Stanislaus River hydroelectric project. The project is licensed and owned by the Calaveras County Water District.

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