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FERC certifies tax credit for 452-MW Seneca Pumped-Storage

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified incremental generation at the 451.8-MW Seneca Pumped-Storage project in Pennsylvania to be eligible for renewable energy production tax credits.

In seeking certification, licensee FirstEnergy Generation Corp. of Akron, Ohio, cited efficiency improvements gained from rewinding two generators.

Seneca Pumped-Storage is on the Allegheny River in Warren County, Pa., at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Allegheny River reservoir project.

Based on its review of information provided by the licensee, FERC certified incremental generation of 14,239,030 kilowatt-hours (kWh) from improvements to Unit 1, and 8,553,984 kWh from improvements to Unit 2. Those improvements represent generation increases of 2.16 percent for Unit 1 and 1.3 percent for Unit 2, FERC said.

National Electric Coil, which rewound both units, said the new stator windings make it possible to operate the units at a higher rating than originally possible.

Work on Unit 1 was initiated in March 2006 and completed in May 2006. Work on Unit 2 ran from March 2007 to May 2007. FERC issued its order certifying incremental hydropower generation for the project in October 2007.

The commission has certified incremental generation at more than a dozen other projects for renewable energy production tax credits, including Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s 148.776-MW Balch 1 and 2 project in California.

FERC certified incremental generation at Balch 1 and 2 based on efficiency improvements from an upgrade that included a new runner for Unit 3 at Balch 2 powerhouse.

The unit upgrade was completed in early 2007, with PG&E filing its request in August. FERC issued its order certifying the incremental generation in late September.

FERC certified incremental generation totaling 7,858,667 kWh, an improvement in generation of 1.48 percent.

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

Nevada water group plans 16-MW hydropower project

A joint powers authority in the Las Vegas area anticipates building a 16-MW hydropower plant on a wastewater transport tunnel that would exploit the drop in elevation from a treatment plant to Lake Mead.

Clean Water Coalition of Nevada (CWC), the joint powers authority, includes Clark County Water Reclamation District and the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas. The coalition is planning and designing the Systems Conveyance and Operation Program (SCOP), a regional system to transport treated wastewater from the member agencies to an outfall location in Lake Mead.

CWC plans to build the hydropower plant in 2010 as part of the SCOP project.

Contractor named for work at Cannelton, Smithland projects

MWH Americas awarded contracts totaling $846,000 to H.C. Nutting Co. to perform geotechnical investigations during construction of the 84-MW Cannelton and 72-MW Smithland projects, both on the Ohio River.

Geotechnical investigations for Cannelton and Smithland will include drilling and laboratory testing services. Both projects are in Kentucky.

MWH, the owner’s engineer, is providing engineering design services for both hydroelectric projects to the licensee, American Municipal Power-Ohio Inc. (AMP-Ohio).

H.C. Nutting, a Terracon company, is a consulting engineering firm specializing in environmental, geotechnical, geologic, and construction materials engineering.

Environmental study supports expanding California dam

An environmental assessment by a California water agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports adding 117 feet to the top of the 220-foot-tall San Vicente Dam.

Raising the height of the concrete gravity dam by 117 feet would provide additional capacity for emergency water storage and increase the reliability and flexibility of the regional water supply. The modification would increase the usable volume of the reservoir by up to 152,100 acre-feet. The proposed action calls for using roller-compacted concrete to increase the dam’s height.

San Diego County Water Authority and the Corps identify the proposed action in a draft environmental impact statement of a plan to raise the dam’s height by 63 feet beyond an already approved 54-foot increase. Adding the 63 feet would provide 100,000 acre-feet of carryover storage in the reservoir.

“Because it would not be feasible or practicable to construct two separate raises of the dam due to issues such as cost, safety of the raised dam structure, and construction logistics, the two increases would be combined and constructed at the same time,” the document said.

In addition to its interest in enlarging the dam, San Diego Water Authority holds a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the feasibility of developing a 570-MW San Vicente pumped-storage project.

NYPA authorizes $675 million in bonds to support projects

New York Power Authority (NYPA) trustees authorized issuance of revenue bonds totaling $675 million to help finance long-term projects at the agency’s 2,755.5-MW Niagara Power and 912-MW St. Lawrence-Franklin Delano Roosevelt hydroelectric projects.

Trustees authorized the issuance of Series 2007 A, Series 2007 B, and Series 2007 C revenue bonds. The Series A and B bonds are exempt from federal taxes, while Series B bonds are taxable.

NYPA, the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, authorized the Series 2007 A and 2007 B bonds up to an aggregated principal amount not to exceed $375 million. Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to finance the cost of the Niagara Power project relicensing program and St. Lawrence-FDR Power project relicensing and life extension modernization. Proceeds also will be used to refund outstanding notes to finance Niagara relicensing and upgrade costs, and to fund the cost of issuing the bonds.

The 2007 C Bonds are authorized up to an aggregate principal amount of $300 million. The proceeds are to be used to refund up to $278 million of the Series 2002 A Revenue Bonds. Refunding of the 2002 A Revenue Bonds is market sensitive, NYPA said. The trustees also authorized a floating-to-fixed interest rate swap to lock in savings on the proposed 2007 C Bond issuance if NYPA, in consultation with its financial adviser, Public Financial Management, decides it is advantageous to do so.

AAWRE invites applicants for credential program

The American Academy of Water Resources Engineers (AAWRE) is accepting applications for its Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer (D.WRE) credential program. Applications, including a $300 fee, are due Feb. 28.

Applicants must meet a set of requirements to demonstrate they possess the prescribed body of knowledge for water resources engineering. Requirements are posted on the Internet at www.aawre.org/requirements.cfm.

The online application is at www. aawre.org/appaawre.cfm; click on “application.”

AAWRE staff reviews applications for completeness and submits them to the AAWRE Admissions Committee.

Once approved by the committee, the applicant participates in an interview with the academy, usually at a site within the state or region of a state where the applicant lives, to articulate knowledge of water resources engineering.

After satisfactory completion of the application and interview process, the AAWRE Board of Trustees issues a certificate of special knowledge indicating the applicant has attained the credential of Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer.

The credential demonstrates commitment to improving the practices and standards of water resources engineering and to advancing the profession of water resources engineering, the academy said.

– For additional information, call the academy at (1) 703-295-6414 or E-mail: certification@aawre.org.

Hawaii irrigation system suitable for mini-hydro

Adding an 85-kW mini-hydropower plant to a water delivery pipeline on Hawaii’s Molokai Island is both technically and economically feasible, says the Bureau of Reclamation.

Reclamation is helping the state of Hawaii evaluate the rehabilitation of state-owned irrigation systems. As part of this work, the U.S. government agency contracted with Ottawa Engineering Ltd., in association with Christensen Associates Inc., to study the possibility of generating electricity by using surplus hydraulic energy available in the upper portion of the 4-mile-long pipeline.

The Ottawa/Christensen study finds that the electricity generated from the hydro plant could be used to displace electricity purchased from Maui Electric Co., the electric utility that serves Molokai, to pump surface water and groundwater from the Waikolu Valley into the Molokai water supply system.

The proposed project, known as the Upper Molokai Water Pipeline Hydropower Plant, also could reduce the ongoing costs of operating and maintaining the irrigation system by reducing the amount of electricity purchased to pump water into the system.

Various approvals and permits could be required for the project to be built, including that of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act also might be required, the report states. A license under the Federal Power Act is not required because the project is not located on federal lands, does not affect a navigable waterway, and does not affect interstate commerce.

Under the most attractive option analyzed, project costs are estimated to total $592,000. Norcan Hydraulic Turbine Inc. proposed this option. Norcan was one of four businesses contacted for proposals for water-to-wire equipment packages.

Reclamation says the next steps for developing the project involve applying for exemption from Hawaii’s law requiring an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement and finalizing arrangements with Maui Electric for interconnection and net metering. Those steps would be followed by project engineering design, preparation of tender documents for water-to-wire and civil works components, and solicitation of bids.

New York utility plans $3 billion system investments

U.S. utility Energy East Corp. says it plans to invest more than $3 billion over three years in reliability and infrastructure, while being environmentally responsive.

Energy East, New York State’s third largest hydroelectric generator, serves 3 million customers in New York and the New England states. Chairman Wesley von Schack told shareholders that public policy-makers recognize significant capital investments are needed to ensure a secure, safe, and reliable energy infrastructure system, while addressing public concerns about global warming.

Schack said that since 1999 Energy East has reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by nearly 50 percent and significantly reduced sulfur hexafluoride emissions, which have 24,000 times greater warming effect than CO2.

He noted that in 2006 Energy East’s New York utility units, Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. (RG&E) and New York State Electric & Gas, increased hydroelectric output by 14 percent. The company previously reported its hydro plants generated their highest amounts in 20 years and 15 years, thanks to storm-driven river volumes in 2006 and strategic plant investments.


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