Washington utility district seeks approvals on 12 MW of hydro

Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Wash., applied Aug. 1 at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for licenses for the long-delayed Calligan Creek and Hancock Creek hydroelectric projects.

The proposed Calligan Creek project is a run-of-the-river small hydroelectric facility located on Calligan Creek in unincorporated King County, Wash. It has an estimated nameplate capacity of 6.0 MW, and is projected to generate about 20.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually.

The study of Calligan Creek and its potential for hydropower development began in the 1980s. The Calligan Creek Hydroelectric Project was initially studied by the Weyerhaeuser Co. working with Puget Sound Energy (formerly known as Puget Power) and its subsidiaries. The overall plan was to construct and interconnect three hydropower projects, which included the Black Creek, Hancock Creek, and Calligan Creek hydroelectric projects.

The Black Creek project was actually constructed and began commercial operation in May 1994. The proposed Calligan Creek project is similar in size and type of facility to the Black Creek project, and was originally licensed in 1993. The project was designed and permits were obtained but construction did not proceed for economic reasons.

The project as licensed in June 1993 included a powerhouse with a generating capacity of 5.4 MW and a 4.25-mile long, transmission line tying into the switching vault at the Black Creek Hydroelectric Project. In 1994, the license was amended to bury the transmission line.

The license was acquired by a small company, Balaton Power, in early 2000 through a sales agreement and transfer of the license. However, the economic climate had become increasingly difficult for small, start-up companies, and Balaton Power was not able to obtain financing to construct the project, the district noted. The project license was terminated by the FERC in April 2004 due to failure to start construction. Arch Ford acquired the project assets in 2007, and the property at the diversion weir, intake, penstock and powerhouse was conveyed to his limited liability company (Calligan Power LLC) via quitclaim deed in 2009.

The district’s Board of Commissioners approved a Climate Change policy in March 2007 that calls for meeting the district’s future growth through all cost‐effective conservation and a diverse mix of renewable energy resources. The District’s Mid-Term Assessment to the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) identified that more than 60 average MW (aMW) of additional renewable resources is needed by 2020 to meet its expected increase in demand. The district said its preference is to own and operate its own resources, where feasible, in order to reduce its exposure to the sometimes volatile short-term energy market. The district is actively engaging in conservation programs as well as pursuing a number of new generation resources, including low impact/small hydropower.

The Calligan Creek project was subsequently reviewed and deemed a renewable resource that meets the various needs of the district. Calligan Power LLC sold the project assets to the district in 2010. The district filed an application with FERC for a preliminary permit in December 2010 to study the feasibility of the proposed project.

Also on Aug. 1, the district filed a separate license application with FERC on the Hancock Creek project. This would be a run-of-the-river small hydro facility located on Hancock Creek in unincorporated King County. The proposed project has an estimated nameplate capacity of 6.0 MW, and is projected to generate approximately 22.1 GWh annually.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.