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FERC certifies tax credits for six hydro projects in four states

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation for renewable energy production tax credits at six hydroelectric projects in New Hampshire, California, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Internal Revenue Code to apply a PTC to incremental production gains from efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydro facilities placed in service after Aug. 8, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2014. The Internal Revenue Service determines whether to grant the credits after FERC certifies hydropower production.

Tax grants sought for Peterborough

FERC approved a request Sept. 4 from American Hydro for certification of incremental generation at the 623-kW Peterborough project on Nubansuit Brook in Hillsborough County, N.H. Certification is for efficiency improvements due to upgrade of pond level control and automation at Peterborough's two developments, Verney Mill Dam and Union Street Dam.

Instead of seeking certification for a PTC, American Hydro plans to use FERC certification to apply for a tax grant, as allowed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

FERC found Peterborough had an annual historical generation baseline of 1,430.9 MWh and incremental generation of 207.5 MWh, a 14.5% increase.

PG&E wins certification for two California projects

FERC granted certification of incremental generation at two California projects operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 312.33-MW Pit 3, 4, and 5 and 192.5-MW Drum-Spaulding.

PG&E requested certification for Pit 3, 4, and 5 due to upgrade of Unit 2 at the Pit 5 powerhouse on the Pit River in Shasta County, Calif. The work involved installation of a new runner and wicket gates and upgrades to electrical and mechanical components.

FERC certified a historical generation baseline of 974,522.3 MWh for the powerhouse and generation with improvements of 3,021 MWh, an increase of 0.31%.

PG&E requested certification for Drum-Spaulding, on the South Yuba, Bear and North Fork American rivers, due to upgrade of Unit 5 of the Drum 2 development in Nevada and Placer counties of California. The upgrade involved replacing the turbine runner and rebuilding the needle servos.

FERC certified a historical generation baseline of 283,632 MWh, generation with incremental generation of 7,118 MWh, a 2.51% increase.

Alcoa wins certification for 210-MW Yadkin

The commission also approved a request by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to certify incremental generation from the upgrade of Unit 1 of the 109-MW Narrows development of Alcoa's 210-MW Yadkin project on the Yadkin River in North Carolina.

Alcoa cited incremental generation from replacement of the turbine runner and related equipment of Unit 1, which was completed in April 2009.

FERC found the Narrows development had an annual historical generation baseline of 530,700 MWh and total incremental generation of 4,000 MWh, a 0.75% increase.

FERC certifies two new units at 125-MW Holtwood Expansion

FERC approved a request by PPL Holtwood LLC to certify incremental generation resulting from installation of two new turbine-generators at the 125-MW Holtwood Expansion project on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

The approval follows certification in 2011 of incremental generation resulting from replacement of two 1.18-MW turbine-generators at the original 108-MW Holtwood project.

PPL Holtwood says it plans to use FERC certification to apply for a tax grant from the Treasury Department. FERC certified incremental generation for installation of new Units 18 and 19.

FERC found Holtwood had annual historical baseline generation of 613,244 MWh and incremental generation of 378,490 MWh, or a 61.7% increase.

Minimum flow unit wins certification

FERC approved a request by Duke Energy Carolinas LLC to certify incremental generation from installation of a 395-kW minimum flow turbine at the Cedar Cliff development of its 26.175-MW East Fork project on the Tuckasegee River in Jackson County, N.C. The new unit is to utilize additional minimum flows required by a relicense for the project.

FERC found the project had an annual historical generation baseline of 24,629 MWh and incremental generation of 1,485 MWh, a 6% increase.

Enduring Hydro acquires 6-MW Mahoning Creek project

Advanced Hydro Solutions LLC has sold its 6-MW Mahoning Creek hydroelectric project to Enduring Hydro LLC for an undisclosed amount.

The project will be built on the existing Mahoning Creek Dam, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam is one of 16 in the Corps' Pittsburgh District and is designed to store runoff from rainfall and snowmelt in western Pennsylvania.

Pending final permitting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Enduring Hydro will add a US$16 million hydro system to the existing dam.

Although Enduring Hydro now owns the project, Advanced Hydro says it will retain an ongoing interest in the project and will provide consulting services to assist in its final development.

The hydroelectric scheme has been designed by Mead and Hunt, with PCX Corporation also providing services. Construction of the plant will be managed by The Ruhlin Company and should begin this fall.

"We look forward to working with [Advanced Hydro] to begin construction of a project that will provide over 20,000 MWh of clean electricity annually to western Pennsylvania," says Enduring Hydro Chief Executive Officer Kristina Johnson. Enduring Hydro, an offshoot of green power think tank Enduring Energy LLC, was established for the purpose of developing new hydroelectric facilities.

HDR Engineering acquires environmental consulting agency

HDR Engineering Inc. has purchased the assets of Ecosystem Management & Associates Inc. for an undisclosed amount. EM&A, based in Lusby, Md., provides "environmental services, including coastal zone management, military range sustainability, pollution studies and management, and environmental conflict resolution and outreach," according to a company release.

HDR Engineering President Eric Keen says the two companies got to know each other while "working for our mutual clients" and that those experiences were what prompted the Omaha-based consulting firm to acquire EM&A.

HDR specializes in architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services.

FERC licenses 4-MW W. Kerr Scott, exempts 185-kW Dividers

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license to the 4-MW W. Kerr Scott project and issued an exemption from licensing to the 185-kW Dividers project in July.

The Energy Infrastructure Update for July 2012, issued by FERC's Office of Energy Projects, showed the commission also received applications for exemptions for projects in Utah and Oregon.

FERC issued a license to Wilkesboro Hydroelectric Co. for the W. Kerr Scott project, to be built at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam of the same name on the Yadkin River in Wilkes County, N.C.

Grand Valley Irrigation District received a conduit exemption for Dividers, to be built on Grand Valley's irrigation system in Mesa County, Colo.

Monroe City, Utah, filed for a conduit exemption for the 37-kW Monroe Cold Spring project on the city's water distribution system in Sevier County, Utah.

FERC also received an application for a conduit exemption from the city of Pendleton, Ore., for the 234.4-kW Energy Recovery Technology (ERT) Phase 2 project on the city's water system in Umatilla County, Ore. Pendleton filed a similar application in May for the 160-kW ERT project.

FERC, which previously used the infrastructure update as an in-house tool, began making the monthly update public beginning with December 2010. The report allows the public to track the activities of the Office of Energy Projects in the areas of hydropower, natural gas, electric generation, and electric transmission.

The Office of Energy Projects' Energy Infrastructure Update for July 2012 may be obtained from the FERC Internet site under http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/jul-2012-energy-infrastructure.pdf.

Ferguson awarded contract for Lewiston modernization

The New York Power Authority has approved a two-year, US$5.6 million contract to Ferguson Electric to assist with its Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) program at the Niagara Power Project's 240-MW Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant.

The LEM program is designed to refurbish and modernize the Lewiston facilitiy, NYPA says, enhancing its performance and extending its working life.

The new contract will allow Ferguson to proceed with wiring and other work at Lewiston, including the installation of static exciters, generator circuit breakers, cable and pump-turbine unit instrumentation.

This latest contract marks the third NYPA has awarded Ferguson for work at the Lewiston pumped-storage plant.

Previous contracts were for the design, manufacture, delivery and installation of new isolated phase buses and phase reversal switches, as well as for the installation of new generator step-up transformers - also part of the LEM program.

In all, the LEM program will cost NYPA $460 million and take 10 years to complete. Other projects to be performed include upgrades to all of Lewiston's generator step-up transformers and the 12 pump-turbines, which date to 1961.

NYPA says upgrades of the pump-turbine units will start in December, with a goal of overhauling one pump-turbine every eight to nine months. The schedule will allow for 11 of the 12 units at the plant to be operational at all times, with overall completion of the project expected in 2020.

New construction materials consulting group ready for debut

Scott C. Nichols Consulting Group LLC has opened in Tucson to provide construction materials testing and inspection services to major dam projects across the globe.

The company was launched by Scott Nichols, who previously served as president and co-founder of Fall Line Testing & Inspection. Fall Line Testing is a construction materials testing firm specializing in remote, major projects primarily in the water resources and power generation sectors

"The dam building community and water resources markets are a small but well-recognized group," Nichols says. "We look forward to having these people as clients and becoming involved in many of their world-class projects."

Nichols says the new consulting agency will specialize in mass concrete, roller-compacted concrete (RCC) and other concrete mix designs used in embankment dams. The company will also provide construction materials testing and inspections, plus quality assurance and control services.

The staff will be comprised of "high skilled and certified technicians," including former employees of Fall Line Testing, the company says.

"Our business model will focus less on physical construction materials testing on-site in Tucson, but rather, in seeking other qualified, cost-effective and certified labs to partner with and perform these services," Nichols says. "This will enable us to make quick decisions to deliver results on time and within budgets."

Nichols says his long-term goal also includes the founding of a testing and training center that civil engineering technicians can use to study construction materials.


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