Hydro Review

The Leading Edge

FERC approves plans for new 300-kW ocean power plant

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved plans for the 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy project in Maine, according to members of the state's congressional delegation.

The pilot hydrokinetic project license will allow the Portland, Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company to install turbine generator units on the ocean floor and operate the project for eight years. ORPC plans to install its Commercial TidGen Power System, which consists of sea floor-mounted units intended for depths of as much as 150 feet. Each of the units is 98 feet wide and 31 feet tall. OPRC says it has been engineering and field-testing its turbines in waters off Eastport since 2004 and now wants to install five turbines within a 61-acre area between Goose Island and Grove Point. ORPC says it could begin construction of the plant soon, which would consist of a single unit in the first phase of development. After a year of testing and operation, another four units would be installed. Sections of the turbine were being assembled in Eastport in early March.

BOEM, Hawaii form ocean energy task force

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held its first offshore renewable energy task force meeting with the state of Hawaii recently.

The task force was established to facilitate communication between BOEM and stakeholders in Hawaii concerning renewable energy leasing for research and commercial development on federal submerged lands, known as the Outer Continental Shelf, offshore Hawaii.

The task force includes state officials designated by the governor and officials from relevant federal agencies, as well as local government officials.

"BOEM created this task force at Gov. Abercrombie's request to coordinate and consult with the state of Hawaii and others on potential renewable energy activities on the OCS offshore Hawaii," says BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "Working closely with stakeholders will allow us to identify and address issues relating to future offshore renewable energy leasing and development in a way that is smart from the start and supports Hawaii's clean energy goals."

"Hawaii is home to a wide range of natural energy resources and is fast becoming a major test bed for innovative alternative and renewable energy projects," Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says.

"This inter-governmental task force will encourage development of Hawaii's offshore alternative energy options to lessen our islands' dependence on foreign oil, provide a bridge to a fully realized renewable energy future, and allow more clean energy projects - and the quality jobs that come with them - to come to fruition," Abercrombie adds.

The task force meeting included an overview of existing regulatory processes and discussions on how best to complement Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative when considering renewable energy development on the OCS, which starts 3 miles from the coast.

The initiative established the goal of transforming Hawaii's energy supply to 70% clean energy by 2030.

In April 2009, President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the final framework for renewable energy development on the OCS.

This framework establishes the process BOEM uses for granting leases, easements and rights-of-way for offshore renewable energy development activities, such as the siting and construction of renewable energy facilities on the OCS.

The framework also allows for BOEM to use task forces in carrying out its responsibilities for authorizing OCS renewable energy activities in partnership with state, local and federal agencies and tribal governments, BOEM officials say.

Elsewhere, BOEM has established renewable energy task forces in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

FERC: hydrokinetic project must complete units or change license

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered operators of the nation's first hydrokinetic project, 4.4-MW Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 2, to submit a plan to resume hydrokinetic generation at the site or to seek a license amendment deleting the hydrokinetic units from the project license.

FERC wrote officials of Hastings, Minn., on Feb. 6, directing the city to take the action since the city and its hydrokinetic development partner, Hydro Green Energy of Houston, have not operated the 35-kW hydrokinetic unit at the 4.4-MW conventional hydro plant since March 2010.

The city of Hastings and Hydro Green reported in June 2011 that the hydrokinetic unit, which was placed in operation in 2009, was removed from the river in March 2010 due to looming flood waters. The unit has been in storage ever since.

"It is our hope to move Unit 1 from storage back to Lock and Dam No. 2 within the next two months," Hastings and Hydro Green wrote June 1, 2011.

"That said, given the state of the river (and its impact on the conventional plant's head and the discharge flows that drive the hydrokinetic unit), we are unsure of when we can commence power generation on Unit 1."

Although the project license includes the addition of a second 35-kW unit, it was never installed.

"With regard to the planned (and licensed) Unit 2, there will be no fabrication and installation of this unit," Hastings and Hydro Green wrote.

"Hydro Green Energy, as the commission is aware, has turned its focus to low-head hydropower development using a modified version of the Hastings technology."

FERC says it has received no communication from the project operators since the June letter.

"Several months have passed and we have not received an update as to the progress of the reinstallation of hydrokinetic Unit 1 and the future installation of Unit 2," FERC says.

The commission gave the operators 60 days to file an application to amend the project license authorizing the removal of the hydrokinetic units from the license.

Alternatively, it gave the operators 60 days in which to file a plan and schedule for resuming operation, noting the hydrokinetic project is required to be complete by December 2012.

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