FirstLight works around Vermont Yankee during hydro relicensing

FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. is working to revamp the water studies related to the relicensing of two hydro facilities due to the planned 2014 closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is upstream of those facilities.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 13 sent a letter to FirstLight about the status of this work so far.

On Sept. 13, FERC’s Director, Office of Energy Projects, issued the study plan determination for the relicensing of FirstLight’s Turners Falls Hydroelectric and the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage projects. However, due to Entergy’s Aug. 27 announcement of its plan to decommission the upstream Vermont Yankee plant by the end of 2014, the study plan determination did not address 19 proposed or requested studies pertaining to aquatic resources because implementation of these studies may produce unusable data if conducted while Vermont Yankee is still operating.

As a result, on Nov. 25, FERC held a technical meeting to obtain more information on the proposed Vermont Yankee decommissioning and listen to comments from FirstLight and stakeholders regarding any necessary adjustments to the proposed and requested study designs and/or schedules.

At this meeting FERC worked with FirstLight and stakeholders to identify: studies not affected by operations of Vermont Yankee, that may be implemented in 2014; any studies likely affected by operations of Vermont Yankee; and studies that may need modification to their methodology due to the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee.

A similar meeting was held on Nov. 26 to discuss TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc.’s Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon hydroelectric projects.

“Generally, the majority of the stakeholder comments centered on the studies’ implementation schedules,” FERC wrote in the Dec. 13 letter. “In consideration of these comments, we will establish appropriate study-specific implementation schedules in the pending study plan determination. That study plan determination will be issued by February 17, 2014.”

The 1,080-MW Northfield Mountain facility is located in Northfield, Mass., approximately five and one-half miles up the Connecticut River from Turners Falls Dam. Turners Falls is a 6-MW conventional hydro facility.

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.