Hydro Review

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FERC draft EIS recommends relicensing 82.3-MW Toledo Bend

A draft environmental impact statement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recommends relicensing of the Toledo Bend project on the Sabine River, including a 1.3-MW expansion unit for total capacity of 82.3 MW.

The Sabine River Authority of Texas and Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana, are joint licensees for the Toledo Bend project, located on the Texas-Louisiana border. The authorities filed to relicense the water and power project in 2011.

Toledo Bend features a dam, reservoir, spillway, powerhouse with two vertical Kaplan turbine-generator units, tailrace channel, station transformer, and transmission line. The authorities propose to install a 1.3-MW horizontal Francis minimum flow turbine-generator in a second powerhouse downstream from the spillway.

The authorities have reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Forest Service on recreation, shoreline erosion, and invasive species and with other stakeholders on aquatic issues. They propose to implement provisions of the settlement agreements dealing with recreation areas, erosion monitoring and management, control of invasive Chinese tallow, and continuous spillway releases.

FERC staff issued the draft EIS on June 14, recommending the commission relicense the project as proposed by the authorities, with a number of FERC staff modifications. If the project were relicensed with no changes, project power would cost about $21.11/MWh less than the cost of alternative power. Under the Sabine River authorities' proposal, power would cost $3.49/MWh less than alternative power. Under the FERC staff-endorsed EIS, power would cost $3.19/MWh less than alternative power.

The draft EIS may be obtained at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13282438. FERC is taking comments until Aug. 5.

West Virginia exploring new sources for micro hydropower

Marshall University in West Virginia plans to install a 1.3-kW hydro plant that will be used as a demonstration and education project in the Morris Creek Watershed near Montgomery.

The project is being coordinated by the university's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences in conjunction with the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University, Morris Creek Watershed Association and West Virginia Division of Energy's Office of Coalfield Community Development.

According to the university, the hydro project will use acid mine drainage discharge as its water source to "demonstrate renewable energy applications on former surface-mined properties." Water from the discharge will be diverted to power the turbine-generator unit, then directed back into the main stream for treatment before entering Morris Creek.

"We're seeing an increasing interest in various types of renewable energy all around the state," said George Carico, director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. "Electricity generated from hydropower is definitely not new, but using mine water discharge as a power source is."

Power generated by the plant will be fed to the Morris Creek Watershed Association's stream monitoring equipment and meeting facility, while the project itself will be open for tours and other educational programs.

Marshall University said US$14,000 in federal and local funding was provided for the project, with half coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the other being cash and in-kind financing from Morris Creek Watershed Association. The association also provided engineering expertise and support from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and Bridgemont Community and Technical College.

Seattle City Light CEO honored for commitment to sustainability

Seattle City Light General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Jorge Carrasco has been awarded the American Public Power Association's (APPA) Alan H. Richardson Statesmanship Award for his utility's commitment to achieving public power goals.

"I am honored to be selected by APPA for this award," Carrasco said. "No one person can achieve consensus on important issues. It takes many people who are willing to identify common ground and work toward shared goals. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with many bright, energetic people who are committed to the values of public power."

The award was given at APPA's national conference in Nashville and recognizes Carrasco and Seattle City Light's efforts in developing sustainable resources such as hydropower.

For almost a decade, Jorge has been an active participant in APPA - most recently making contributions to APPA's CEO Task Force on Generation Policy and Climate Change. "As an active member of that group and in his role as chair of the Large Public Power Council, he has shown exemplary leadership and has played a key role in helping public power find consensus on many key policy issues," APPA President and CEO Mark Crisson said

In addition to his work with APPA, Carrasco has been active with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Alliance to Save Energy, Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy, American Water Works Association and Nature Conservancy.

In April, the Seattle-based utility was recognized by the Climate Registry for its work in measuring and verifying its carbon footprint, earning "climate registered" status for the second consecutive year. Seattle City Light provides power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents, and more than 92% of the electricity provided to its customers in 2010 came from hydro facilities.

FERC draft EIS recommends relicensing 182.5-MW Martin Dam

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff have issued a draft environmental impact statement recommending relicensing of 182.5-MW Martin Dam on Alabama's Tallapoosa River.

Alabama Power Co., a unit of the Southern Co., filed an application to relicense the Martin Dam project in 2011. FERC staff issued a draft EIS for Martin Dam on June 6, recommending the commission relicense the project as proposed by Alabama Power with a number of FERC staff modifications.

The utility proposed to continue to operate Martin Dam in peaking mode but to modify operations in several ways. To provide higher reservoir levels in winter for recreation and to help ensure Lake Martin reaches its summer pool level by the end of May, Alabama Power proposed to raise the winter flood pool by 3 feet and raise the operating curve and drought curve proportionately. FERC staff rejected that proposal.

"Staff does not recommend Alabama Power's proposed increase in the winter flood pool elevation because the reduction in flood storage would result in an increase in flood elevation downstream of the projects," the draft EIS said. "The proposal to raise the winter pool by 3 feet could affect 23 structures that are not affected under existing conditions."

FERC staff added that without the winter pool increase, there is no need for the licensee's proposed water quality monitoring in the reservoir or for proposed lowering of the lake for dock maintenance every six years. Similarly, FERC staff rejected a proposal to provide higher reservoir levels for recreation in the fall under certain conditions.

Among the licensee's proposed environmental measures, FERC staff rejected a proposal to study the distribution and abundance of American eels in the Tallapoosa River from the project tailrace to the mouth of the river. Instead, staff proposed that Alabama Power trap eels annually at Martin Dam to determine if passage might be necessary.

If the project were relicensed with no changes, project power would cost about $119.95/MWh less than the cost of alternative power. Under Alabama Power's proposal, power would cost $108.83/MWh less than alternative power. Under the FERC staff-endorsed alternative, power would cost $109.84/MWh less than alternative power.

The draft EIS may be obtained at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13275576.

Colorado agency making allocations for small hydro

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is hoping to create a "small hydropower roadmap" for the state's agriculture through its Advancing Colorado's Renewable Energy (ACRE) program. ACRE, whose purpose is to "promote the feasibility and development of agricultural energy-related projects," has already helped fund a number of research and development projects for a number of renewable energy sources.

One emphasis this year, however, will be small hydropower.

"In 2013, CDA will focus ACRE resources in just a few energy themes, including small hydropower," said CDA Conservation Services division director Eric Lane. CDA said the Applegate Group and Telluride Energy have received ACRE grants of more than US$86,500 to "collect, aggregate and analyze market research data on the opportunities, costs, benefits and other barriers to the application and deployment of small hydropower technologies in agricultural operations."

"The majority of hydropower in Colorado was installed prior to 1990 with very few installations in the last 20 years," Telluride Energy CEO Kurt Johnson said. "Understanding which small hydro opportunities have been developed and why some opportunities are not being developed is critical information for identifying barriers and recommending achievable projects."

The final report and recommendations are expected by year's end, after which CDA said it will use the data to focus ACRE resources on project development.

For more information on this topic, see the article on page 80.

Ameren wants to let structures remain within project boundary

Hydro licensee Ameren Missouri has recommended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allow 215 non-conforming structures to stay within the boundary of the 93-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks to complete a plan to end encroachment on project lands by about 4,000 private structures.

Shoreline management plans have been developed for hydro projects in recent years as a result of congressional mandates and court orders involving balancing competing uses at hydro projects. In 2011, FERC approved Ameren's plan for the 1,150 miles of shoreline of the 230.75-MW Osage project. However, FERC rejected a proposal by Ameren that it would continue to allow construction of accessory structures - such as decks, walkways, gazebos, and patios - within boundaries of the 81-year-old project.

In 2012, FERC allowed Ameren to redraw the project boundary line so that all existing private residences and commercial structures at the lake would be outside the project boundary. The new boundary generally follows the 662-foot elevation, except in some upstream areas where it follows higher elevations. It also carved out areas below the 662-foot line to ensure existing residential and commercial structures were outside the boundary. Then the commission directed the utility to deal with remaining "accessory structures" that still were within project boundaries.

As a result, Ameren announced June 5 its recommendation to FERC to allow 215 remaining non-conforming structures to stay within the project boundary. For the past year, Ameren inventoried the structures, worked with property owners and agencies, and recommended a "positive closure plan" to FERC.

In announcing the submission, Ameren Missouri said it reminds lakefront property owners that under the new FERC-approved Shoreline Management Plan, new decks, patios and gazebos are not allowed on project lands below the 662-foot elevation.

Restoration under way at Minnesota's largest hydro project

Minnesota Power hopes to partially reopen the state's largest hydro project by the end of the year, marking the end of a year-long restoration project necessitated by flooding in June 2012. Record rainfalls caused flash flooding and river flows 40% above previous record flows, the utility said, damaging six turbines, topping the Thomson reservoir and breaching a portion of an earthen dike in the 72-MW Thomson project's forebay. Washed-out roads and mudslides also limited access to the powerhouse, making rehabilitation difficult.

Minnesota Power estimated repairs to the forebay to cost US$25 million, with work expected to begin in August when sheets of steel will be placed into the ground to reinforce about 3,000 feet of rebuilt earthen embankment. A permanent concrete spillway will also be installed at the breach site. The company said it also expects to invest $35 million for improvements at both Thomson and the other three hydro projects it operates along the St. Louis River.

FERC EIS endorses relicensing two California projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a combined draft environmental impact statement endorsing proposed relicensing of the Drum-Spaulding project with a slightly reduced capacity of 191.5 MW and the Yuba-Bear project with a slightly increased capacity of 90.72 MW. The projects are on the South Yuba, Middle Yuba, Bear, and North Fork American rivers in California.

In the EIS, FERC staff recommended relicensing the projects as proposed with some staff modifications, as well as mandatory conditions and recommendations of resource agencies and groups.

Drum-Spaulding

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed to relicense the 192.5-MW Drum-Spaulding project, which features 10 developments: 105.9-MW Drum No. 1 and No. 2, 11.4-MW Spaulding No. 1 and No. 2, 5.8-MW Spaulding No. 3, 2-MW Alta, 5.7-MW Deer Creek, 22-MW Dutch Flat No. 1, 11-MW Halsey, 14-MW Wise, 3.2-MW Wise No. 2, and 11.5-MW Newcastle.

In its relicense applications, PG&E proposes to retire Alta's 1-MW Unit 2, which has not operated since 2007, as well as remove the Deer Creek development from the Drum-Spaulding project license and operate it as a separate project with no change in operation.

PG&E proposes other changes, including removing the unused Jordan Creek diversion and conveyance system, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Drum-Spaulding relicensing proposal with staff modifications. Project power would cost $84.42/MWh less than the cost of alternative power with no changes, $105.48/MWh more under PG&E's proposal, and $109.43/MWh with the FERC staff-endorsed alternative.

Yuba-Bear

Nevada Irrigation District filed a relicense application in 2011 for the 79.32-MW Yuba-Bear project, which features four developments: 12.2-MW Rollins, 3.6-MW Bowman, 24.6-MW Dutch Flat No. 2, and 39-MW Chicago Park.

In its relicense application, NID proposes adding a new powerhouse, the 11.4-MW Rollins Upgrade, adjacent to the Rollins powerhouse, increasing total installed capacity to 90.72 MW. NID proposes other changes including removing two roads, improving recreation facilities, and modifying operations affecting streamflows, spill, and the rate of flow fluctuations.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff endorsed the Yuba-Bear relicensing proposal with staff modifications. With no changes, project power would cost $31.84/MWh less than the cost of alternative power. NID's proposal would cost $52.16/MWh more than alternative power. The FERC staff-endorsed alternative would cost $58/MWh more than alternative power.

San Clemente Dam removal begins with ceremony

Elected officials, conservation groups and community leaders from across the state of California gathered in mid-June for a ceremony marking the first day of San Clemente Dam's deconstruction.

Built in 1921 on the Carmel River, San Clemente Dam was determined to be seismically unsafe and an impediment to steelhead trout and other wildlife below the structure, causing owner California American Water to request permission to remove the dam in September 2009.

In May, a US$61 million contract was awarded to Granite Construction to remove both it and the Carmel River Dam. The removal project - undertaken by California American Water in partnership with the California State Coastal Conservancy, NOAA Fisheries and The Nature Conservancy - will cost about $83 million. California American Water will contribute $49 million, with the remainder coming from the California State Coastal Conservancy and NOAA Fisheries. The Nature Conservancy and other public and private sources are also expected to contribute.

The dam does not provide significant water storage, and its reservoir is more than 95% filled with sediment, making "more of a risk than a benefit," according to The Nature Conservancy.

Benefits of the removal include:

- Removing public safety risks posed by a potential collapse of the dam;
- Aiding in the recovery of threatened south-central California coast steelhead trout;
- Preserving more than 900 acres of coastal watershed lands; and
- Restoring the river's natural sediment flow, helping replenish sands on Carmel Beach.

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