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Developers pursue 22,459 MW of pumped storage in 11 states

Interest in new pumped-storage hydroelectric projects is increasing across the United States, with developers proposing 22 projects in 11 states totaling 22,459 MW.

Developers of two projects are preparing to file applications for hydropower operating licenses with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), while 20 other projects are in the FERC preliminary permit application process that reserves the sites for feasibility study.

FERC received notices of intent to file license applications to build 1,300-MW Eagle Mountain pumped-storage in Riverside County, Calif., proposed by Eagle Crest Energy Co., and 1,330-MW Parker Knoll pumped-storage in Piute County, Utah, proposed by an affiliate of Symbiotics LLC, Parker Knoll Hydro LLC. Both developers previously held preliminary permits to study the projects.

In recent months, FERC also has processed applications from developers for 20 proposed pumped-storage projects totaling more than 19,800 MW in Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

BPUS Generation seeks six projects

BPUS Generation Development LLC, an affiliate of Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., is pursuing six of the projects. In February, FERC granted the company preliminary permits to study two projects: 1,340-MW Little Potlatch Creek in Idaho, and 1,100-MW Umtanum Ridge in Washington.

Preliminary permit applications from BPUS Generation are pending for three other pumped-storage projects in Washington: 1,040-MW Banks Lake, 1,150-MW Duffey Lakes, and 1,310-MW Lake Roosevelt.

BPUS Generation also filed a permit application for the 1,000-MW Lorella pumped-storage project in Oregon. Intertie Energy Storage LLC filed a competing permit application for the same site.

FERC also issued preliminary permits to Nevada Hydro Co. Inc. for 450-MW Blue Diamond pumped-storage, and to another Symbiotics affiliate, North Eden Hydro LLC, for 100-MW North Eden pumped-storage. Both projects would be built in Utah.

Symbiotics affiliates pursue seven projects

In addition to pursuing the Parker Knoll and North Eden projects, affiliates of Symbiotics LLC have applied for preliminary permits to study another five pumped-storage projects:

Riverbank seeks five pumped-storage sites

Subsidiaries of Canada-based Riverbank Power Corp. applied for preliminary permits to study five pumped-storage projects in three states:

Applications for preliminary permits also are pending with FERC for:

Massachusetts awards grants to three small projects

The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust awarded $1 million in design and construction grants for rehabilitation and upgrades of three hydro projects totaling about 800 kW.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles announced grants for projects in Winchendon, Clinton, and Orange, all of which meet Green Communities Act requirements for investment in hydropower.

The act calls for the trust to make annual grants of up to $3 million to upgrade efficiency or capacity and reduce environmental effects of hydro plants built before 1998.

Project operators submitted applications in response to a Massachusetts Technology Collaborative call for applications through its small hydropower initiative. The collaborative administers the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.

165-kW Tannery Pond

The trust awarded a $325,000 construction grant to French River Land Co., which plans to repair the dam, tailrace, and powerhouse of Tannery Pond in Winchendon. The company also plans to replace generation equipment and controls.

The new total capacity will be 165 kW. The project is expected to generate about 350 megawatt-hours (MWh) of incremental power. The work is to be completed in about a year.

154-kW Wachusett

The trust awarded a $375,000 design and construction grant to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which plans to install new generation in the historic Wachusett Dam’s lower gatehouse in Clinton. The facility generated electricity in the early to mid twentieth century.

When complete, the facility will have 154 kW of generating capacity and will generate more than 780 MWh annually. The project requires a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and will take about three years to complete.

487-kW Mini-Watt

The trust awarded a $352,172 design and construction grant to Mini-Watt Hydroelectric LLC for the Mini-Watt project in Orange, which involves replacing an existing turbine with one better suited to the site, and adding new controls.

When is complete, it will have 487 kW of capacity, and produce about 350 MWh of incremental generation. The work is expected to take 18 months to complete.

New call seen in 2009 for grant applications

The grants will result in the generation of 1,500 MWh of clean electricity annually, enough to power nearly 200 homes. All projects require a minimum applicant cost-share of 25 percent.

“Hydropower is an important renewable energy resource for the commonwealth,” Bowles said. “These three grants will restore electricity generating capacity to dams that have not been producing electricity and improve efficiency at those that are underutilized.”

The trust anticipates issuing another solicitation for grant applications in 2009. Funds for the trust come from renewable energy charges on electric bills, which generate about $25 million each year.

New NHA officers, board members named

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) board elected new officers for 2009-2010.

Andrew Munro, director of external affairs for Grant County Public Utility District, Washington, is president.

Other officers are:


Andrew Munro
Click here to enlarge image

The officers’ one-year terms begin after NHA’s 2009 annual conference, scheduled for May 11-13 in Washington, D.C.

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

The five will serve three-year terms that begin after the annual meeting.

Corps awards $3.3 million contract for 68-MW DeGray

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $3.3 million contract to Alstom Hydro US Inc. to rewind a generator at the 68-MW DeGray hydro plant on the Caddo River in Arkansas.

The contract calls for Alstom Hydro, of Littleton, Colo., to provide labor, materials, and equipment to rewind the generator of Unit 2.

The Corps made the award following a call for cost proposals and qualifications to study uprating the generator.

DeGray began operation in the early 1970s, the Corps said.

Corps awards contract for governor work

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Pacific Region awarded a $10.6 million contract to American Governor Co. to design, manufacture, and deliver replacement digital governors for hydropower plants in the Seattle, Portland, and Walla Walla districts.

The Corps awarded the contract in December to American Governor Co., of Warminster, Pa., which responded to a solicitation for the work.

The Corps operates and maintains 21 hydroelectric powerhouses within the Federal Columbia River Power System, and the Columbia, Snake, and Willamette rivers. It said many of the powerhouses have mechanical governors that require replacement, repair, or refurbishment.

Task orders are to be issued on an as-required basis. While the Corps originally indicated the total of the work provided under the indefinite quantity contract could not exceed $9 million, the award amount totals $10.6 million.

The region’s powerhouses feature several unique families of governors, including: Allis Chalmers and Pelton mechanical governors; Pelton mechanical governors by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton; Voest-Alpine analog electric governors and Woodward analog electronic and mechanical governors, the Corps said.

Reclamation names contractor for 428-MW Hungry Horse

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $5 million contract to furnish and install unit circuit breakers at the 428-MW Hungry Horse hydroelectric project, on the south fork of Montana’s Flathead River.

Gardner Zemke Co., Albuquerque, N.M., the contractor, will remove, dispose of, and replace circuit breakers for four main units. The company will install four unit breakers, grounding switches, control wiring on boards, and new terminal boxes.

Work is expected to start in September. It is to be completed in January 2010.

Gardner Zemke performed similar tasks at the project under terms of an earlier contract, which involved replacement of two station service breakers. Reclamation said it considers the work vital to maintaining efficiency and safe operation of the power plant.

Hungry Horse features a 564-foot-tall concrete dam completed in 1953 and a powerhouse with four units uprated and overhauled between 1990 and 1993.

Corps awards contract for Cougar Dam fish facility

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $9.7 million contract for construction of a fish collection facility at 25-MW Cougar Dam, on the South Fork of Oregon’s McKenzie River.

The Corps awarded the contract to Natt McDougall Co., Tualatin, Ore. The company submitted a proposal in response to a Corps solicitation.

Work is to include fabrication and on-site civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical features. Tasks are to be completed over 18 months at a site directly downstream of the dam, the Corps said.

Cougar Dam is one of 13 dams in northwestern Oregon’s Willamette River Basin included in a biological opinion issued by NOAA Fisheries in 2008.

Reclamation to modify dams to restore fish habitat

The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing to implement one of North America’s largest cold water anadromous fish restoration efforts, which includes removal or retrofitting of dams in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s (PG&E) 37.9-MW Battle Creek project in California.

Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser signed a record of decision for the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project in January, completing the federal environmental documentation process. Reclamation said it could begin implementing the program as early as summer 2009, once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a determination on PG&E’s July 2008 application to amend the license of the Battle Creek project to support the program.

The program is expected to restore about 42 miles of habitat in Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, and an additional 6 miles of habitat in tributaries to Battle Creek. It is expected to help restore imperiled winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead while minimizing the loss of energy produced by the Battle Creek hydroelectric project.

PG&E will continue to operate the project’s five hydropower plants. However, less water will pass through three plants, 7-MW South, 8-MW Inskip, and 13-MW Coleman. Generation at 9-MW Volta and 900-kW Volta 2 will be unaffected.

State and federal funding is available to implement the first phase of the restoration project. Phase 1 calls for installing fish screens and ladders at North Battle Creek Feeder and Eagle Canyon Division dams, removing Wildcat Diversion Dam and appurtenant conveyance systems on the North Fork, installing a pipeline at Eagle Canyon Canal, and modifying Ashbury Dam on Baldwin Creek.

Subsequent construction phases include installing an Inskip Powerhouse tailrace connector and bypass on the South Fork, installing a fish screen and ladder on Inskip Diversion Dam, installing a South Powerhouse tailrace connector, and removing Lower Ripley Creek Feeder, Soap Creek Feeder, Coleman and South Diversion dams, and appurtenant conveyance systems.

Utility reaches settlement in failure at Swift 2 project

Cowlitz County Public Utility District (PUD) has reached an out-of-court settlement with TIG Insurance Co. The insurance company was accused of bad faith in denying a claim for damages from a 2002 power canal failure at the 66.8-MW Swift No. 2 hydro project. A federal judge dismissed the case in January.

Cowlitz PUD owns Swift No. 2, on the North Fork of Lewis River, east of Cougar, Wash. The canal embankment collapsed into an underground lava flow tube on April 21, 2002, sending water, soil, and rock into the project powerhouse and onto a nearby highway. Reconstruction was completed in 2005 for about $135 million, including the cost of replacement power for nearly four years.

In February 2004, TIG and Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange sued the PUD, asking a federal district court to declare there was no coverage under their policies. In 2006, the court sided with Cowlitz PUD, which then reached a $25 million out-of-court settlement with Federated.

In October 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied TIG’s final appeal, upholding a lower court decision that TIG must make an insurance payment of $29.8 million for Swift No. 2 repairs. Cowlitz subsequently filed a bad faith claim against TIG under a new Washington law that allows insured entities to seek damages against insurance companies that they believe acted in bad faith.

In December, Cowlitz PUD’s board approved a settlement with TIG of the bad faith claim. Based on that settlement, the U.S. District Court dismissed the case. The district said it agreed not to disclose settlement terms.

Insurance now has paid about $100 million of the $135 million total cost, with the balance paid for by bonds issued in 2004.

The PUD and insurer Lloyd’s of London are to share the TIG proceeds under a 2004 agreement in which Lloyd’s paid $70 million for project damages. The shared distribution agreement gave Cowlitz PUD 60 percent and Lloyd’s 40 percent of future receipts from litigation against TIG and Federated. After legal costs, the PUD’s share of the TIG award totals $14.4 million.

FERC certifies tax incentives for projects in Northeast

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has certified renewable energy production tax credits to owners of six hydroelectric projects in New York and New England, including three operated by Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P., a unit of Brookfield Renewable Power.

Erie Boulevard projects

FERC certified incremental generation at Erie Boulevard’s 6.8-MW St. Regis River, 83.86-MW Hudson River, and 2.7-MW Piercefield projects, all in New York.

Erie Boulevard sought certification of incremental generation from efficiency improvements to the Allens Falls development of St. Regis, on the West Branch of the St. Regis River. It replaced a turbine runner with a new runner from American Hydro, increasing both efficiency and generating capacity. FERC certified incremental generation totaling 1,604 megawatt-hours, a 4.52 percent increase.

Erie Boulevard also sought certification for efficiency improvements made to the Hudson River project’s Sherman Island development. It upgraded turbines and added new turbines, increasing the total installed generating capacity of Sherman Island to 37.2 MW from 28.8 MW. FERC certified incremental generation of 19,615 megawatt-hours (MWh), a 10.94 percent increase.

Erie Boulevard sought certification of incremental generation from efficiency improvements gained by installing a new inflatable rubber flashboard system at Piercefield, on the Raquette River. FERC certified 406 MWh of incremental generation, a 2.78 percent increase.

FERC previously issued orders certifying incremental hydropower at several other Brookfield projects, including 29.08-MW Piney in Pennsylvania.

Gulf Island-Deer Rips

FERC certified incremental generation at the 34.4-MW Gulf Island-Deer Rips project, on the Androscoggin River in Maine. FPL Energy Maine Hydro LLC sought certification of incremental generation gained by upgrading Unit 2.

FPL Energy replaced the unit’s runner and rewound the generator. FERC certified incremental generation totaling 5,272 MWh, a 4.05 percent increase.

Lawrence

FERC certified incremental generation at the 16.8-MW Lawrence project, on the Merrimack River in Massachusetts.

Licensees Essex Co. and Lawrence Hydroelectric Associates increased generation by replacing wooden flashboards with an inflatable crest gate system. FERC certified incremental generation totaling 4,740 MWh, a 6.7 percent increase.

Vernon

FERC certified incremental generation at 32.4-MW Vernon station, on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont. TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc. sought certification of incremental generation gained from a $50 million repowering program.

TransCanada replaced four turbine-generators with higher-capacity and higher-efficiency units. FERC certified incremental generation totaling 56,401 MWh, representing a 41.64 percent increase.

Low Impact group certifies projects in Wyoming, Nebraska

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) recertified the 1.5-MW Strawberry Creek project in Wyoming as “low-impact” hydropower, and issued an original certification for the 86.342-MW Kingsley Dam project in south-central Nebraska.

Strawberry Creek

Lower Valley Energy Inc. owns and operates the run-of-river Strawberry Creek project, on a creek of the same name. LIHI announced recertification in late January; the project first earned LIHI certification in 2004.

Strawberry Creek project features a 22-foot-tall, 110-foot-long reinforced concrete gravity dam, an intake sluice, a reservoir with a surface area of about 2.8 acres, a 2.3-mile-long penstock, and a powerhouse with three turbine-generators. The project owner diverts all flows up to 48 cubic feet per second for power generation.

Kingsley Dam

Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District owns the Kingsley Dam project, which includes 3-mile-long Kingsley Dam, on the North Platte River. Kingsley Dam project features four powerhouses, dams, reservoirs, and canals on the North Platte and Platte rivers. The hydropower plants are 33-MW Kingsley, 16.812-MW Jeffery, 17.29-MW Johnson No. 1, and 19.24-MW Johnson No. 2.

Kingsley hydro plant abuts the dam, which impounds Lake McConaughy, and discharges into Lake Ogallala. Central Diversion Dam, 50 miles downstream of Kinglsey Dam at the confluence of the North Platte and South Platte rivers, diverts Platte River flow into the 75-mile-long Supply Canal, which incorporates 27 dams and the other powerhouses.

FERC relicensed Kingsley in 1998, completing 14 years of work to develop an integrated approach to managing the Platte River Basin.

Applications pending

Applications for certification of multiple projects were pending, including that for: Blue Sky Power’s 400-kW Harris Bridge project, on the Rockfish River in Virginia; the city of Hamilton, Ohio’s 70.56-MW Greenup; and Brookfield Renewable Power’s Twin Cities projects.

New applications included those filed by Brookfield for the 39.35-MW Rumford Falls project, on the Androscoggin River in Maine, and TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc.’s 32.4-MW Vernon and 278.26-MW Fifteen Mile Falls projects on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont.

LIHI certifies projects based on whether applicants can demonstrate projects meet its “low impact” criteria for river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed health, endangered species protection, cultural resources, recreation, and whether the dam has been recommended for removal.

The voluntary LIHI program is designed to help consumers identify environmentally sound, low-impact hydropower facilities for emerging “green” energy markets. While certified, the project can be marketed as a certified low-impact hydro facility. Certification also means a project could be eligible for other green power programs.

Since 2001, the non-profit organization has certified or recertified more than three dozen projects it says demonstrate minimal effects on fish and wildlife.

Wisconsin company picks up Green-e Energy certification

WPPI Energy is selling electricity generated from renewable resources, including small hydro, as “Green-e” certified.

The Green-e Energy program is one of several renewable energy certification and verification programs in the U.S. The program provides independent, third-party certification to ensure certified renewable energy meets strict environmental and consumer protection standards. The Center for Resource Solutions, a San Francisco–based non-profit organization, administers the program.

WPPI Energy, formerly called Wisconsin Public Power Inc., serves 50 customer-owned electric utilities. Through WPPI Energy, public power utilities share resources and own facilities providing electricity to more than 190,000 Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Iowa businesses and homes.

WPPI Energy programs enable customers to make voluntary purchases of renewable energy from member utilities. As a provider of Green-e-certified renewable energy, WPPI Energy undergoes an annual audit to document the company purchased or generated enough quantity and type of renewable energy to meet customer demand and marketing claims.

Troutman Sanders law firm merges with Ross, Dixon & Bell

Troutman Sanders LLP merged with Ross, Dixon & Bell LLP, creating a firm with 785 lawyers and offices in 15 cities.

The merger combines Troutman Sanders’ corporate, finance, litigation, real estate, and public policy practices with Ross, Dixon & Bell’s insurance, professional liability, and commercial litigation practices.

The new firm keeps the name Troutman Sanders LLP and remains headquartered in Atlanta. The firm employs about 1,700 people worldwide. The merger was completed Jan. 2, Troutman Sanders said.

Through the merger, Troutman Sanders for the first time operates offices on the West Coast and in Chicago. The merger also doubles the size of Troutman Sanders’ presence in Washington D.C., to more than 100 lawyers.

Robert Webb Jr., Troutman Sanders’ managing partner since 1993, remains managing partner of the merged firm. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Troutman Sanders has more than 50 areas of legal practice, and represents developers, owners, and operators of hydroelectric projects involved in licensing issues.


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