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Montana, Missouri propose revisions to renewables standards

In Montana, a policy that would include hydro on the list of renewable resources eligible for energy credits has been introduced. The bill - introduced by Sen. Jim Kean and known as Senate Bill No. 45 - is similar to one presented to Montana's lawmakers in 2011. That legislation was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

The new legislation adds a stipulation for expansion projects and applies to hydro plants located within Montana or those that deliver electricity into Montana. Montana's renewable portfolio standard calls for 15% of the state's power to come from renewable sources by 2015.

Included as eligible renewable re-sources under Senate Bill No. 45 are:

- New hydropower projects with nameplate ratings of 10 MW or less that do not require new appropriations, diversions or impoundments of water;

- Projects with nameplate capacities of 15 MW or less installed at existing reservoirs or irrigation systems that did not have hydroelectric capabilities as of April 16, 2009; and

- Some expansions of existing hydro projects that increase generation capacity on or after Dec. 31, 2010.

In Missouri, legislation making its way through the General Assembly could see larger hydro projects included as part of the renewable energy standard. Missouri House Bill No. 44 - introduced by Rep. Bart Korman - would modify the state's existing legislature by adding "one new section relating to renewable energy definitions."

Missouri's standards call for 15% of electricity sold by the state's utilities annually to be generated by renewable sources by 2021. Only hydro plants with nameplate ratings of 10 MW or less can be counted, and projects that require new water diversions or impoundments are not eligible. Pumped-storage schemes are also excluded.

HB 44 would allow hydroelectric stations of any capacity to count toward Missouri's "renewable" percentage, although pumped-storage would still be excluded.

FERC reports three hydro units commissioned in January

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports two hydro project expansions and a newly exempted project were placed in service in January. The Energy Infrastructure Update for January, compiled by FERC's Office of Energy Projects, also included issuance of an original license and a license exemption.

The commission reported start-up of minimum flow units at existing projects:

- Lockhart Power Co. placed in service a 565-kW unit at the 18-MW Lockhart project in Chester and Union counties, S.C.; and

- Duke Energy Carolinas LLC placed in service a 395-kW turbine at the Cedar Cliff development of its 26.175-MW East Fork project on the Tuckasegee River in Jackson County, N.C.

FERC also reported that Monroe City Corp. placed in service the 37-kW Monroe Cold Spring project on the Monroe City, Utah, water distribution system in Sevier County.

FERC issued a license to Inside Passage Electric Cooperative for the 455-kW Gartina Falls project on Gartina Creek in Alaska. It also issued a conduit exemption to San Gabriel Valley Water Co., doing business as Fontana Water Co., for the 310-kW Sandhill Water Treatment Plant Hydro in San Bernardino County, Calif.

The January update may be obtained at

Chacayes, Jordan hydroelectric projects earn honors

The 4.4-MW Jordan plant in North Carolina and the 111-MW Chacayes plant in Chile were honored during the POWER-GEN International Projects of the Year awards gala, which was held in Orlando in December.

Recognized as the Hydro Project of the Year was Chacayes, with runner-up honors going to Jordan.

The Chacayes project is the result of a 2005 Pacific Hydro Chile (PHC) feasibility study, which resulted in a recommendation for six run-of-river plants in the Chachapoal River basin. The US$450 million Chacayes project was built by Constructora Astaldi Fe Grande Cachapoal ltda - a consortium including Italy's Astaldi SPa and Chile's Fe Grande. Energy produced by Chacayes is supplied to Chlectra under a long-term power-purchase agreement.

The Jordan Hydroelectric Limited Partnership's Jordan project is located at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-owned dam in Moncure, N.C. The project consists of two 2.2-MW vertical Kaplan turbines - each of which is located inside a 13-foot square by 100-foot-high steel box. These "modules" are installed on the upstream side of the dam's discharge tower. The first turbine became commercially operational in January, with the second coming online in July.

Final FERC EIS recommends relicensing Middle Fork American

In February, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued a final environmental impact statement recommending relicensing of 223.753-MW Middle Fork American River in California.

Operated by Placer County Water Agency on the Middle Fork American and Rubicon rivers, the project includes five developments: 15.3-MW French Meadows, 725-kW Hell Hole, 122.4-MW Middle Fork, 79.2-MW Ralston and 6.128-MW Oxbow.

The final EIS, issued Feb. 22, includes many of the findings of a draft EIS issued by FERC staff in 2012. Using FERC's integrated licensing process, PCWA filed to relicense the project in February 2011.

PCWA proposed increasing the height of Duncan Creek, North Fork Long Canyon Creek and South Fork Long Canyon Creek diversion dams to increase storage. It also proposed adding 6-foot-tall spillway crest gates to Hell Hole Dam to allow storage of additional water during the spring and summer for increased generation in the fall and winter.

The licensee also proposed pulse and higher minimum instream flow releases, defined ramping rates, scheduled whitewater boating releases, measures to protect sensitive species and to maintain and enhance recreational opportunities, and development of management and monitoring plans.

The EIS considered the applicant proposal, a no-action proposal leaving project operations unchanged, an applicant alternative proposal, and PCWA's original proposal with staff modifications. FERC chose the staff alternative as the preferred alternative. The EIS found power would cost $18.6 million, or $18.90/MWh, less than the cost of alternative power.

FERC asked to accelerate eight licenses to obtain tax credits

Developer Free Flow Power Corp. has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite the licensing of eight projects so that they might qualify for federal investment tax credits (ITC) before a deadline at the end of 2013.

FFP filed requests with FERC in response to action by Congress Jan. 1 extending by one year the qualification period for production tax credits (PTC) or ITCs for renewable energy sources. The extension was part of a deal to avoid the budgetary "fiscal cliff."

FFP said the hydropower industry anticipates a project can qualify for the 30% cost reduction if 5% of its construction costs can be spent in 2013.

FERC issued preliminary licensing schedules for the projects that extend well into 2014, but FFP asked that FERC expedite the process so that seven of the projects could be licensed by late summer 2013 and eighth by September 2013.

Seven of the projects, totaling 25 MW, are on state-owned dams in Ohio. The eighth, 4-MW project is to be built on Williams Dam, owned by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

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