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Municipalities study hydro for West Virginia Corps dam

Consulting engineer MWH is conducting a study to determine the feasibility of building a hydropower plant at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bluestone Dam, on the New River in Summers County, W.Va. After the feasibility report is completed, a final decision will be made whether to begin construction, says developer Tri-Cities Power Authority.

The authority, on behalf of the communities of Hinton, White Sulphur Springs, and Philippi in West Virginia, obtained authorization to develop the site through federal legislation. This legislation, passed in 1992, names the three communities the non-federal sponsor for a 25.8-MW Bluestone Dam project.

When Bluestone Dam was built in 1952, it was designed and authorized for hydropower production, but a power plant never was added. The cities’ proposed plant could use three of six penstocks that were included in construction of the dam.

Tri-Cities designated American Municipal Power-Ohio (AMP-Ohio) to manage all aspects of the project, including development, permitting, design, construction, maintenance, repair, and financing.

AMP-Ohio, which represents 119 municipal utilities in five states, operates the 42-MW Belleville project at Belleville, W.Va., on the Ohio River. It also is developing several other Ohio River projects, including: 84-MW Cannelton at Cannelton Locks and Dam, near Cannelton, Ind.; 72-MW Smithland at Smithland Locks and Dam in Livingston County, Ky.; and 35-MW Willow Island at Willow Island Locks and Dam near Waverly, W.Va.

AMP-Ohio also supported the city of Hamilton, Ohio’s successful license application for the 105-MW Meldahl project.

Alaska awards $1.1 million to 15 hydro projects

The Denali Commission and Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) awarded more than $1.1 million to 15 Alaska hydro projects.

The awards were included in $5 million in grants for alternative and renewable energy projects in Alaska. The Denali Commission, which delivers federal government services in Alaska, is providing $4 million and the AEA is contributing $1 million to the total program.

The winning projects were selected from 96 responses to a December 2007 call for proposals.


Table 1: Alaska Hydro Projects Receiving Renewable Energy Grants
Click here to enlarge image

Developers of the hydro projects plan to use the grant money to fund feasibility studies, environmental studies, licensing and permitting, and preliminary design.

Table 1 gives information on the projects selected.

Steven Haagenson, AEA Executive Director and State Energy Coordinator, said the funding will help develop projects that could “annually displace millions of gallons of diesel fuel and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.”

Despite being an oil producing state, Alaska has some of the highest per capita electric power and fuel costs in the U.S., particularly in isolated rural villages.

Twin Lakes Canal Co. studies 12-MW Bear River Narrows

Twin Lakes Canal Co. of Preston, Idaho, is proceeding with required studies to develop the 12-MW Bear River Narrows project in southeastern Idaho. The project would be built about 4 miles downstream from PacifiCorp’s 30-MW Oneida project.

Project development would include construction of a 104-foot-high roller-compacted-concrete dam at Bear River’s Oneida Narrows and a powerhouse built below the dam, says Clair Bosen, president of Twin Lakes Canal Co.

Twin Lakes Canal, an irrigation company with more than 230 shareholders, uses water from three storage reservoirs to irrigate about 16,000 acres of land in Franklin County, Idaho. Twin Lakes Canal holds water rights for the Bear River Narrows site and has a water intake system in Mink Creek, a tributary to Bear River.

Twin Lakes Canal is performing 25 studies, ranging from fish and aquatic ecology to recreation use to turbine entrainment, required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Idaho Department of Water Resources. GeoSense of Idaho Falls, Idaho, is assisting with the licensing studies, which are anticipated to be complete by late summer 2009.

A major component of the project involves replacement of a series of outdated and inefficient canals and siphons with an underground water conveyance system, Bosen said. Currently, the irrigation system loses nearly half of its water supply to evaporation and seepage. Bosen says replacing the canals with an enclosed system will cut those losses.

Sorenson Engineering in Yucaipa, Calif., will design the project. The project engineer is Schiess & Associates, Idaho Falls.

Twin Lakes Canal anticipates funding the $40 million project through municipal bonds or private loans, Bosen says.

Grant County begins generator upgrade at Wanapum

Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) is upgrading the generators at its 1,125-MW Wanapum project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Grant County PUD’s proposal to upgrade generators at Wanapum, one of two developments in the 1,980-MW Priest Rapids project on the mid-Columbia River in Washington.

Devine Tarbell & Associates Inc. is providing engineering services for the generator upgrade program under a $1 million contract that extends through 2018. Grant County PUD said it planned to name a contractor to do the actual upgrade work.

FERC issued an order amending the license to operate the project Nov. 7, 2008, increasing the total authorized capacity of Wanapum and the second development, Priest Rapids, to 1,980 MW from 1,893 MW. The new figure is based on 1,125 MW for the Wanapum development and 855 MW for the Priest Rapids development.

FERC issued a relicense order for the Priest Rapids project earlier in 2008, authorizing the publicly owned utility to continue to operate the project for 44 more years.

Wanapum houses ten generating units. FERC previously amended the license to authorize installation of new advanced turbines rated at 112.5 MW. The new turbines will increase total rated capacity to 1.5 million horsepower (hp) from 1.2 million hp, and increase the total hydraulic capacity to 188,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from 178,000 cfs.

Despite the turbine upgrade, the generators’ total nameplate capacity remained unchanged at 1,038 MW. However, each upgraded generator will have a nameplate rating of 122 MW. With the completion of all ten turbine replacements and the upgrade of the ten generators, the authorized capacity will be limited by the total capacity of the turbines of 1,125 MW.

The new order states Grant County PUD will continue installing the remaining six advanced hydroelectric turbines at Wanapum in addition to performing upgrades of the power plant’s ten generators.

U.S. study pending on expanding Shasta Dam

A draft feasibility study could be released as soon as spring 2009 on a proposal to increase the height of California’s 710-MW Shasta Dam, increasing migratory fish survival, improving water supply, and increasing hydropower generation.

The Bureau of Reclamation completed a series of geologic surveys in 2008. The test pit and drill-hole investigations provided data to evaluate bedrock and soil conditions at 30 sites along Shasta Dam, Bridge Bay Marina, and Lakeshore Drive, on the upper Sacramento River near Redding, Calif.

A Reclamation geologist said engineers would use the survey information when developing project designs. The information also would be used when determining cost estimates, which are expected to be included in the draft feasibility study on the dam expansion project. A final feasibility report and environmental impact statement could be completed in 2010.

Scenarios under consideration call for increasing the dam’s height by 6.5 feet, 12.5 feet, or 18.5 feet. A higher dam would expand the capacity of Shasta Reservoir, which is expected to increase survival of anadromous fish populations in the upper Sacramento River, improve water supply reliability, and increase hydroelectric generation from higher head.

Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region began in 2000 to evaluate the potential for enlarging Shasta Dam. It cited increased demand for water supplies and attention to ecosystem needs in California’s Central Valley as reasons for pursuing the study.

Reclamation completed construction of the 602-foot-tall dam and 4.55-million-acre-foot reservoir in 1945. It operates the project in conjunction with other facilities to provide flood control, water supply, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife conservation, and maintenance of navigation flows.

HDR Engineering acquires Devine Tarbell & Associates

HDR, an architectural, engineering, and consulting firm, announced Jan. 8 it has acquired Devine Tarbell & Associates Inc. (DTA), a firm that provides hydropower and related renewable energy consulting services to utility, industry, and government clients.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

DTA, an employee-owned firm with nine offices in North America and headquartered in Portland, Maine, employs 260 people. DTA now will conduct business as HDR|DTA. Under the new corporate structure, DTA President John Devine and principals John Tarbell, Rick Miller, James Lynch, and Ed Luttrell become senior vice presidents.

HDR Engineering President George Little noted DTA is an acknowledged leader in conventional hydropower, pumped storage, in-stream hydrokinetic, and ocean energy sources. “They will lead our hydropower efforts, be a valuable asset for growing our presence in Canada and complement our renewable energy practice in the areas of wind, biomass, waste-to-energy, solar, and energy management,” Little said.

Devine said the new relationship will enable HDR’s broader resources to support clients’ entire generation portfolios. “Together with HDR’s power delivery capabilities, our clients will benefit from the full spectrum of renewable energy solutions,” Devine said.

Headquartered in Omaha, HDR employs more than 7,700 people in more than 165 locations worldwide.

FERC revises reporting forms for utilities, hydro licensees

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revised its principal financial reporting forms for electric utilities and hydroelectric project licensees to improve transparency and provide FERC with greater detail it said it needs.

FERC issued a final rule, RM08-5, revising form Nos. 1, 1-F, and 3-Q.

The rule requires public utilities and licensees to provide additional information on implementing formula rates and on affiliate transactions. It also eliminates non-jurisdictional filers from the filing requirements, modifies reporting thresholds, modifies instructions, and contains technical changes.

Form No. 1 is an annual report filed by “major” utilities that in each of the past three consecutive years had sales or transmission services exceeding 1 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of total sales; 100 MWh of sales for resale; 500 MWh of delivered power exchanges; or 500 MWh of wheeling power for others.

Utilities and licensees with total sales in each of the past three consecutive years of 10,000 MWh or more are classified as “non-major,” and file annual Form No. 1-F.

Form 3-Q is a quarterly financial report for electric utilities and licensees that also file the annual Form No. 1 or 1-F. Form 3-Q allows for timely evaluations of existing rates and improves the transparency and currency of financial information, FERC said.

FERC said the final rule complements the commission’s revisions to the reporting requirements for natural gas companies. It became effective Jan. 1, 2009.

Companies subject to the new requirements would file new Form 3-Q following the first calendar quarter of 2009, and new Form 1 and 1-F in April 2010 for calendar year 2009.

U.S. electric cooperatives unite to promote renewables

Electric cooperatives from across the U.S. have formed the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to help members participate nationally in diversified alternative energy projects.

ACES Power Marketing, an energy risk management and transaction services firm based in Carmel, Ind., serves as the organization’s energy management company. It will coordinate development of renewable energy projects.

Twenty-four co-ops, including some hydropower operators, are members of the organization, which also is headquartered in Carmel. Membership in the new organization is open to generation and transmission cooperatives, unaffiliated distribution cooperatives, and others that can buy power in wholesale electricity markets.

“Because of the possibility of a national renewables portfolio standard or carbon tax, and because of the interest of cooperative members in renewable energy, there is no question that power supply cooperatives around the country will continue to expand the amount of renewable energy in their portfolios,” NRCO President Ron Harper said.

Harper, who also is chief executive officer and general manager of the Basin Electric Power Cooperative in North Dakota, said the “tried and true” co-op tradition of banding together to achieve a common goal benefiting all members is the basis for NRCO’s approach.

NRCO identified three main purposes: to facilitate the cost-effective, joint development of renewable resources nationwide for its cooperative owners; to help its owners meet the requirements of mandatory and voluntary renewables portfolio standards and renewable energy standards; and to assist the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association with legislative and regulatory renewables initiatives.

Members in areas that might not have renewable resources can acquire renewable energy and credits through renewables projects developed by NRCO, the organization said.


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