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FERC launches small/low impact hydro Internet site

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has unveiled its Small/Low Impact Hydropower Program Internet site, explaining how developers can quickly and efficiently win FERC approval to build and operate small hydro projects.

The new web page, announced Aug. 31, is one of the results of a FERC investigation into simplifying the process to obtain small hydropower licenses and exemptions.

The web page is designed to guide applicants through the process of selecting a hydro project site, determining if a project is jurisdictional, selecting a FERC licensing process, consulting with stakeholders, and preparing a license or exemption application.

Jeff Wright, director of FERC's Office of Energy Projects, recently told a congressional committee on July 29 that the web page would offer a user-friendly resource with simple, plain-English tools to help applicants understand and complete licensing and exemption processes expeditiously.

U.S. awards dam removal contract for Elwha, Glines Canyon

The National Park Service has awarded Montana-based Barnard Construction Company Inc. a $26.9 million contract to remove the 12-MW Elwha and 12-MW Glines Canyon dams from the Elwha River in Washington state.

The Park Service, part of the Interior Department, invited firms to an industry roundtable in February to help identify qualified contractors. The agency acquired the dams in 2000 from Daishowa America.

The federal government plans to remove the dams to restore salmon and trout runs in Olympic National Park. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration allotted $2 million to Elwha River floodplain restoration in Washington to restore 82 acres of floodplain in conjunction with plans to remove the dams from the park.

Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act in 1992, requiring the Secretary of Interior to restore the Elwha River ecosystem and native anadromous fisheries. Interior determined that dam removal is the only option that would accomplish full restoration.

PPL Montana dedicates fish ladder at Thompson Falls project

Rare species of native Montana trout and other fish now have easier passage into the Clark Fork River thanks to an advanced fish ladder dedicated at PPL Montana's Thompson Falls dam and hydro plant.

Thompson Falls Dam has a seven-unit hydroelectric plant. The units have a total generating capacity of 94 MW.

Funded entirely by PPL Montana and built in collaboration with federal and state wildlife agencies and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the $7.5 million fish ladder reopens hundreds of miles of the upstream Clark Fork River and its tributaries for native bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and other fish species. Engineering firm GEI Consultants provided ecological engineering services for construction of the fish ladder.

The new steel and concrete ladder system, which replaces a small temporary fish ladder used since 2003, has 48 step pools that will permit fish to gradually ascend about 75 feet to the top of, and over, the dam.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it's the first full-length fish ladder in the continental U.S. specifically designed to accommodate bull trout, a federally listed threatened species. It is also the tallest fish passage facility of its kind in Montana.

Call for abstracts announced for HydroVision 2011

Following the conclusion of a record-setting HydroVision International 2010 in Charlotte, N.C., a call for abstracts has been announced for HydroVision International 2011.

HydroVision International 2011 will occur the week of July 18 in Sacramento, Calif.

HydroVision International 2010 attracted 3,000 attendees from around the globe, breaking attendance records for the event.

The deadline for abstracts for HydroVision International 2011 is Oct. 29, 2010. Abstracts should be approximately 200 to 400 words in length.

An online submittal form, topic information, and guidelines are available at

HydroVision International is a hydropower industry conference and exhibition.

In the past, in the odd-numbered years, the conference and exhibition was called Waterpower; in even-numbered years, the event was called HydroVision.

From 2011 on, the annual hydro industry event will be called HydroVision International.

"PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce its commitment to organizing a forum that offers the best of both the traditional Waterpower and HydroVision events in the form of an annual hydropower industry event named HydroVision International," said Marla Barnes, publisher of PennWell's Hydro Group.

To preserve the reputation of the technical aspects of Waterpower, PennWell will call the technical papers track the "Waterpower Technical Papers Track."

U.S. awards rehab contract for Garrison project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Arkansas-based Koontz Electric Company Inc. a $3.89 million contract for rehabilitation of station service at the 517.8-MW Garrison Dam hydro project on the Missouri River in Garrison, N.D.

The work involves removal and replacement of station service equipment, including breakers and current limiting reactor, station service transformers, station service switchgear buses and motor control centers.

Alcoa begins Cheoah hydro plant modernization project

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. has kicked off a $110 million modernization project at Cheoah dam and hydropower plant, one of four hydroelectric facilities that make up Alcoa's Tapoco Project in eastern Tennessee.

The modernization project was given a jump start when the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would award Alcoa a $12.95 million grant as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant was issued by DOE's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.

DOE sought cost-shared projects that upgrade existing hydropower facilities without requiring significant civil works modifications to dams, allowing for them to be developed quickly to help create jobs and stimulate the economy.

The first phase of the modernization project will include the upgrade of two of the dam's five power generation units.

The modernization follows the recent relicensing of the Tapoco project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Small Alaska project secures funding for construction

A proposed southeast Alaska small hydropower project secured the funding it needs to begin construction.

The 5-MW Reynolds Creek hydroelectric project will contribute power to several communities. The small plant will become part of Prince of Wales Island's electrical grid, operated by Alaska Power and Telephone Co.

A $9 million Alaska Energy Authority loan closed the gap, and the project will move forward to the construction phase, according to reports.

Safety failures cited in report on fatal fire at Cabin Creek

Federal officials investigating a 2007 fire that killed five workers at the Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant in Colorado concluded the accident was caused by several safety failures, according to a report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which investigates serious chemical accidents and makes safety recommendations, called for strengthening federal and state regulations to prevent future workplace deaths.

The Cabin Creek accident occurred in a penstock of the Xcel Energy hydroelectric plant, which is located 45 miles west of Denver, according to the CSB.

According to the CSB, painting contractors from RPI Coating Inc. were recoating a 1,530-foot steel portion of the 4,300-foot penstock when a flash fire suddenly erupted as the vapor from flammable solvent, used to clean the epoxy spraying wands, ignited, probably from a static spark in the vicinity of the spraying machine. The initial fire quickly grew, igniting additional buckets of the solvent, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and other combustible epoxy materials stored nearby.

Among other things, the CSB concluded the causes of the accident included a lack of planning and training for hazardous work by Xcel and its contractor RPI Coating Inc. and allowing volatile flammable liquids to be introduced into a permit-required confined space without necessary special precautions.

Eaton Corp. expecting major growth in hydraulics business

Eaton Corp., a manufacturer of hydraulics equipment for the hydropower industry, held its annual distributor meeting Aug. 16-18 in Grapevine, Texas, where the company's chairman and chief executive officer predicted a strong market for Eaton's power management systems.

"Our hydraulics business is rebounding," said Sandy Cutler. "We think our market this year on a worldwide basis will go up about 26 percent."

The Cleveland, Ohio-based company has 2,000 distributors and 47 manufacturing plants worldwide.

One of Eaton's featured technologies is a laser-clad coating for piston rods. The new coating, known as Eatonite, is the only coating in the world that can be repaired on-site without removing the equipment from the field, a feature that can keep costs down when a repair is needed, Eaton said.

The high-performance coating can be used on cylinder rods used to open and close spillway gates and control the wicket gates on a turbine governor.

PPL to sell hydropower shares

PPL Corp. said it reached an agreement to sell interests in certain non-core generating stations, including shares in one hydropower asset, to LS Power Equity Advisors.The transaction will include the 244-MW PPL Wallingford Energy plant, a natural gas-fired facility located in Wallingford, Conn.; the 585-MW PPL University Park plant, a natural gas-fired facility located in University Park, Ill.; and PPL's one-third share in Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, owner of the 421-MW Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Station on the Susquehanna River in Conestoga, Pa.

The transaction, for approximately $381 million in cash, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Excitation equipment contract awarded for Washington projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Andritz Hydro Corp. an $8.3 million contract to replace equipment in the Snake River excitation system, encompassing exciters in three hydropower projects in Washington state.

The Corps' Walla Walla District plans to replace 12 unit exciters: Units 4-6 at 810-MW Lower Granite, Units 4-6 at 810-MW Lower Monumental, and Units 1-6 at 810-MW Little Goose.

The work includes new digital exciters, molded case circuit breakers, exciter cubicles, fuse cabinets, regulator cabinets, power potential transformers, digital controls, collector ring assemblies and associated cabling and wires. The work is to require three years, dependent upon spring runoff and fish passage windows that generally provide seven to nine months of on-site work access, July-March.

First turbine for upgrade of Jocassee project arrives

The first of two new turbines for Duke Energy's Jocassee pumped-storage hydro station has arrived in the Salem, S.C., area, with the second expected to arrive in early September.

Duke Energy's Jocassee hydropower plant, near Salem, will receive new turbines for units 1 and 2 this fall, increasing capacity by 50 MW. The turbines are being manufactured by Voith Hydro in York, Pa.

Each turbine is about 23 feet in diameter, weighing nearly 150 tons. The turbines are being transported via interstate highways on 20-axle, dual-lane trailers about 250 feet long.

These turbines will be the first upgrades to Jocassee units 1 and 2 since they began commercial operation in 1973.

Replacing the turbines will enhance hydro generation from the current maximum capability of 170 MW to 195 MW each.

Each also will increase pumping capacity by 37 MW. Units 3 and 4 were upgraded in 2006 and 2007.

FERC recommends relicensing 368-MW McCloud-Pit

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued a draft environmental impact statement that recommends relicensing the 368-MW McCloud-Pit hydroelectric project on the McCloud and Pit rivers in Shasta County, Calif.

Licensee Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed a relicense application for the project in July 2009. The project includes two storage reservoirs, McCloud and Iron Canyon; two regulating reservoirs, Pit 6 and 7; one afterbay, Pit 7 afterbay; two tunnels; three powerhouses, 172-MW James B. Black, 80-MW Pit 6, and 112-MW Pit 7; and transmission facilities.

PG&E's relicense application proposes adding a 5- to 8-MW powerhouse at McCloud Dam and a 10-MW powerhouse at Pit 7 Afterbay Dam. While FERC's capacity listings for the new and proposed powerhouses total 382 MW, the draft EIS, issued July 30, lists McCloud-Pit as 368 MW.

PG&E is using FERC's Integrated Licensing Process, which coordinates FERC's review with that of other agencies and groups.

U.S. awards bridge crane rehab contract to K&N Electric Motors

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $2.9 million contract to Washington-based K&N Electric Motors Inc. for rehabilitation of a 600-ton bridge crane in the powerhouse of the 810-MW Lower Monumental hydroelectric project on the Snake River in Washington.

The work includes a new bridge drive arrangement with new gear motor drives on four new bridge drive trucks, modification of the lower bridge walkway for installation of the new bridge drives, new cages for the upper bridge access ladders, fall protection anchoring points, new crane access gate, new upstream crane corbel access gate, repair of defective welds, downstream rail clip replacement and rail alignment surveys, new crane corbel fall restraint system, modifications to bumpers and new bridge travel and trolley travel limit switches.

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