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Poll: Pacific Northwest voters support hydro as renewable

A new poll shows voters in the Pacific Northwest value hydropower, with 79 percent of those responding saying Congress and their state legislatures should include hydropower from dams as a renewable energy source.

Of those surveyed, 13 percent said they opposed declaring hydropower a renewable, while 8 percent said they did not know whether they favored or opposed such a declaration.

Those opinions were expressed in a poll of 700 registered voters in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall Inc. conducted the poll in February, measuring attitudes toward salmon, energy, and hydro as a renewable resource.

Respondents indicated electricity generated by hydropower dams is the most practical source for the Pacific Northwest to rely on for most of its energy needs. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said hydropower is the most practical renewable, followed by: wind power, 23 percent; nuclear power, 13 percent; and solar power, 6 percent. Four percent chose electricity generated by fossil fuel plants while another 4 percent did not express an opinion.

On a question about climate change, 69 percent of those surveyed said hydropower does not contribute to global warming or climate change. Another 15 percent said hydro does contribute to global warming or climate change, while 15 percent had no opinion.

The poll also found that two-thirds of Pacific Northwest voters contacted oppose breaching dams on the lower Snake River, viewing breaching as an extreme measure to improve salmon runs on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Poll results are on the Internet at NorthWest RiverPartners’ website, www.nwriverpartners.org. Northwest RiverPartners is an alliance of farmers, utilities, ports, and businesses that promote the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake rivers and salmon recovery policies based on sound science.

Cranes to be rehabilitated for turbine upgrade program

Advanced Crane Technologies LLC of Reading, Pa., is rehabilitating two 350-ton powerhouse bridge cranes that will be used in turbine and generator upgrade programs at the 1,980-MW Priest Rapids hydroelectric project in Washington State. Advanced Crane anticipates completing its work in December 2009.

Grant County Public Utility District, owner of Priest Rapids, awarded a $3.1 million contract to the company to modernize the controls on both bridge cranes, including flux vector controls on the hoists. The contract also includes new motors, brakes, festoons, and operator cabs.

NYPA awards scholarships to Tuscarora members

New York Power Authority (NYPA) awarded scholarships to Nicholas Titus Patterson and Kaylee M. Oddo, members of the Tuscarora Nation.

The full-tuition scholarships for academic excellence and community service are awarded each year under an agreement with the Tuscarora Nation. The nation supported the relicensing of NYPA’s 2,755-MW Niagara hydroelectric project below Niagara Falls at Lewiston, N.Y. The plant was granted a new 50-year operating license in September 2007.

“These scholarships are among the many benefits that the Power Authority brings to Western New York as part of the relicensing for the Niagara project and they represent an investment in the future of New York state and the Tuscarora Nation,” said Horace Horton, NYPA’s regional manager for western New York.

Stimulus directs millions to projects

The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program will receive $2.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed in February.

The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with 56 federal, state, environmental and tribal agencies from Arizona, California and Nevada, is implementing the 50-year program. The $626 million program was created in 2005 to recover endangered species and native wildlife habitat.

The program also helps to ensure certainty of existing and future water and hydropower operations essential to Southwest communities and farms.

More than 8,100 acres of riparian, marsh and backwater habitat will be established along the river. More than 1.2 million razorback sucker and bonytail will be stocked to augment populations of endangered fish.

Reclamation also said it will use $14 million from the stimulus package to apply a new protective coating to two penstocks at its 94.5-MW Flatiron hydroelectric plant in Colorado.

The stimulus bill included $1 billion to Reclamation to invest in U.S. water infrastructure projects. Those projects include Flatiron, part of the Colorado-Big Thompson project.

The Flatiron penstocks, in service since 1954, drop water 1,064 feet through a mile of pipeline to the hydropower plant, located 50 miles northwest of Denver.

Reclamation said recoating would reduce long-term operational costs provided by a more efficient and temperature-resistant paint product. It also would extend the penstocks’ service life an additional 50 years, Reclamation said.

Reclamation plans to issue a solicitation for the work on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, www.fbo.gov.

Another $17.4 million in stimulus funds will be used by the Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District for critical rehabilitation work at Monongahela Lock and Dam 4 at Charleroi, Pa.

The Corps said the work would modernize deteriorating infrastructure, reduce the risk of failure, and address critical backlogged maintenance valued at $250 million.

A joint venture of Trumbull Corp. and Brayman Construction Corp. of West Mifflin, Pa., is carrying out the work, completing construction of a riverwall at Monongahela 4.

FERC certifies tax credits for Missouri, New York projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified efficiency improvements at hydroelectric projects in Missouri and New York for renewable energy production tax credits.

In separate orders, FERC certified AmerenUE’s 230.75-MW Osage project (No. 459) on the Osage River in Missouri, and Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P.’s 18-MW Lower Racquette River project (No. 2330) on New York’s Racquette River.

230.75-MW Osage project

AmerenUE reported efficiency improvements at Osage from upgrades to two main generating units and an operating system that automates and optimizes dispatching of the units. Upgrades included replacing turbine runners, rewinding generator stators, and reinsulating generator rotor poles.

It filed for the certification of incremental generation from those units in February, as provided for by Internal Revenue Code Section 45. Osage features eight main turbines and two house turbines.

18-MW Lower Raquette River project

Erie Boulevard Hydropower, a unit of Brookfield Renewable Power, filed its request for certification for a renewable energy production tax credit for energy improvements tied to capacity upgrades at the four hydropower developments in the Lower Raquette River project.

FERC certified the following numbers for the historical generation baseline, incremental generation, and percentage of incremental generation, for turbine upgrades at each of the developments: Norwood, 12,290 kWh, 4,429 kWh, 6.3 percent; East Norfolk, 19,934 kWh, 5,940 kWh, 8.45 percent; Norfolk, 25,636, 9,716 kWh, 13.83 percent; and Raymondville, 12,411 kWh, 4,827 kWh, 6.87 percent.

NHA commissions study of green job opportunities in hydro

Under the leadership of its new CEO Council, the National Hydropower Association has commissioned Navigant Consulting to study “green” job creation in the hydropower industry.

NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said Navigant is interviewing people and is expected to have first phase results of the study this summer. Navigant has performed similar work for the wind and solar industries.

“There is not a good handle on job creation,” Church Ciocci said. “We know hydropower certainly creates green jobs.”

The industry official said NHA’s CEO Council agreed to fund the Navigant study. She said NHA could use the results in talks with members of Congress, pointing out hydropower can help keep America working, in addition to providing renewable energy and helping stem climate change.

NHA said the report will develop market characteristics and growth scenarios for U.S. hydropower and hydrokinetic markets. It also is to estimate direct and indirect jobs created for each growth scenario regionally.

Voith Hydro participates in D.C. green jobs summit

The chief executive of NHA member Voith Hydro, York, Pa., represented the hydropower industry at a recent Green Jobs Leadership Summit sponsored by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

More than 60 clean energy companies participated in the meeting with Democrat senators to discuss the effect clean energy technology investments have on the economy and how to train workers for clean energy industries.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., nominated Voith Hydro Chief Executive Officer E. Mark Garner to attend the summit as the only hydropower company invited to the event in Washington.

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