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FERC approves Exelon acquisition of Constellation Energy

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the acquisition of Maryland-based power generator Constellation Energy Group Inc. by Illinois-based utility Exelon Corp. in a .9 billion stock swap. The companies announced plans to merge in early 2011.

FERC ruled March 9 that the merger, with proposed mitigation and conditions, would not harm competition in relevant markets. The companies pledged to divest three Constellation stations in Maryland totaling 2,648 MW and sell 500 MW of baseload capacity under contracts that will extend until 2015.

Upon completion of the merger, Constellation shareholders are to receive 0.93 share of Exelon common stock for every share of Constellation stock owned. The new company, called Exelon, will be based in Exelon's Chicago headquarters.

The deal creates a power generator and distributor serving 38 of the 50 states, as well as two Canadian provinces, with more than half of its 34,000 MW coming from nuclear power.

Exelon's portfolio includes the nation's largest nuclear fleet and fossil, hydroelectric and other renewables facilities. Its hydro projects include 574.54-MW Conowingo on the Susquehanna River in Maryland and 880-MW Muddy Run Pumped-Storage in Pennsylvania.

Constellation's 12,000-MW portfolio includes about 1,000 MW of renewables generation owned or under contract, including utility scale hydropower, solar, wind and biomass plants. Constellation owns interests in 380.39-MW Safe Harbor on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and 29.9-MW Muck Valley on California's Pit River.

Mavel to supply turbines for new Marseilles project

Mavel has been selected to provide four Pit Kaplan turbines for the 10.26-MW Marseilles plant in Illinois.

The facility, owned by the Marseilles Land & Water Company, will be on the Illinois River at a site originally occupied by a paper mill and power plant that ceased operations in the late 1950s.

MLWC obtained a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in December 2011. The contract was signed in January 2012.

Commissioning of this plant is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Reclamation to issue lease for proposed Colorado project

The Bureau of Reclamation will issue a Lease of Power Privilege to the Delta-Montrose Electric Association and Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association to develop hydropower resources on the South Canal, a feature of the Uncompahgre Irrigation Project in Colorado.

Reclamation will issue the LOPP based on the final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the proposal. These documents have been completed in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act to address the effects of the construction and operation of hydro facilities.

Federal policy encourages non-federal development of environmentally sustainable hydropower on federal water resource projects. The LOPP will ensure the development of hydropower is consistent and compatible with existing operations and purposes of the Uncompahgre Project.

This project is on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in west-central Colorado. Project features include Taylor Park Dam and Reservoir, Gunnison Tunnel, seven diversion dams, 128 miles of main canals, 438 miles of laterals, and 216 miles of drains. The systems divert water from the Uncompahgre and Gunnison rivers to serve more than 76,000 acres of project land.

Environmental study of Miner Flat Dam project in early stages

The White Mountain Apache Tribe is examining proposals for generating an environmental impact statement on the proposed White Mountain Rural Water System, including Miner Flat Dam in Arizona.

The tribe accepted qualifications in January for engineering design of the system, including technical evaluation of hydropower potential. The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a construction cooperative agreement to the White Mountain Apache and is assisting the tribe on the project.

Consulting services sought include collection, analysis and coordination with design firms to prepare an EIS for the project's three components:

- A 160-foot-tall, 450-foot-wide roller-compacted-concrete dam on the White River north fork, spillway, outlet works, and potential hydro generation;
- A 12.4 million-gallon-per-day municipal water treatment plant; and
- A 60-mile water transmission system with pipelines and pump stations.

National Hydropower Association selects new leadership team

The National Hydropower Association's Board of Directors has named its officers and advisory board for 2012-2013.

David Moller of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was elected to his second term as president. Joining him will be Cherise Oram of Stoel Rives as vice president, Eric Van Deuren of Mead & Hunt as treasurer and Suzanne Grassell of Chelan County Public Utility District as secretary.

NHA also named five newly-elected members of the Board of Directors:

- Jane Cirrincione, Northern California Power Agency;
- Kevin Frank, Voith Hydro;
- Kirby Gilbert, MWH Americas;
- Lisa Grow, Idaho Power; and
- Steve Wenke, Avista.

In addition, five members joined NHA's Advisory Board:

- John Barnes, Exelon Power;
- John Claybrook, Alstom;
- Wayne Dyok, Alaska Energy Authority;
- Jeanne Hilsinger, Mavel; and
- Jon Suloway, New York Power Authority.

Corps awards several contracts at hydro projects

A.W. Schell Electrical Services Inc. has been awarded a contract worth US$2.9 million by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Seattle District for work at 2,457.3-MW Chief Joseph Dam.

A.W. Schell will supply and install a 125/250-volt DC system, a 24/48-volt DC system, and a 120-volt preferred AC system (including battery banks, switchboards, chargers, and inverters).

The Corps previously awarding a $1.5 million contract to Burke Electric LLC to replace a substation in November 2011.

In addition, the Corps has awarded a contract worth more than $195,000 to HDR Engineering Inc. to perform an evaluation of operating practices at three hydro plants along the Savannah River in Georgia.

The evaluation will include the 600-MW Richard B. Russell, 422-MW Hartwell and 280-MW J. Strom Thurmond facilities. The goal of the study is to explore options for increased efficiency through automation upgrades and remote operation while assuring plant safety, reliability and availability requirements.

Finally, the Corps awarded a contract worth 76,234 to Pick Electric Inc. for work at the 42.6-MW Albeni Falls hydro project in Idaho. The work includes the replacement of DC boards and breakers.

Pick Electric will demolish and furnish new 115-V AC and 125-V DC panelboards, including conduit, cable tray, wiring, disconnects, transformers, switchboards, annunciator panels, enclosures, chargers and inverters.

NWHA announces new board of directors

Four new officers were elected to serve on the Northwest Hydroelectric Association's board of directors at NWHA's recent conference in Portland, Ore.

Replacing Patti Kroen as NWHA president is John Esler of Portland General Electric. Esler previously served a two-year stint as NWHA vice president and was named to NWHA's board of directors in 2008.

Replacing Esler as vice president is Steve Padula. Padula works on project development with hydro clients through Long View Associates.

Michele Drake replaces Rick Dieker as treasurer. Drake is a compliance coordinator with the Avista Corporation.

Allison Murray replaces Wayne Dyok as secretary. Murray is a hydro consultant with Kleinschmidt Associates. Matt Love of Van Ness Feldman will continue serving as legal counsel.

NWHA represents all segments of the hydropower industry. Since its founding in 1981, it has grown to include members in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, California and British Columbia.

FERC relicenses Duke's 43.2-MW Nantahala project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has relicensed the 43.2-MW Nantahala project, the last of six Duke Energy projects in North Carolina to be relicensed under terms of comprehensive settlement agreements.

Duke and stakeholders crafted agreements over three years to resolve issues associated with relicensing Nantahala, 26.175-MW East Fork, 24.6-MW West Fork, 980-kW Bryson, 1.04-MW Franklin and 1.8-MW Mission. The settlement included surrendering and breaching the 225-kW Dillsboro project in 2010.

The Nantahala project includes a dam and reservoir on the Nantahala River in western North Carolina, a powerhouse containing a single generating unit, and three small diversion dams on the Dicks and White Oak creeks.

In its relicense proposal, Duke sought no new capacity for Nantahala. It proposed to operate the projects according to terms of the settlement agreements, with measures for protection, mitigation and enhancement of affected resources. Duke is implementing enhancements that are to cost $10.5 million.

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