Hydro developer advances Illinois permitting for 9.7-MW project

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comment until March 13 on a draft water permit approval that would allow Northern Illinois Hydropower LLC to build a 9.7-MW hydro project.

The permit for the project would be issued under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and would cover a facility in Grundy County on the Illinois River. The proposed new powerhouse would contain nine generating units with total installed capacity of 9.7 MW, with new intake and forebay structures, configuring headrace channel, new tailrace, new transmission lines and appurtenant facilities.

This permitting is in association with an application filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a license to construct and operate a hydroelectric plant. This project is at the Dresden Island Lock and Dam at river mile 271.5 of the Illinois River in Grundy County.

“The applicant is proposing to install a turbine/generator system in the power station, which would create approximately 60,000 megawatt-hour (MWh) of power,” said an Illinois EPA notice. “The design will comply with requirements set forth by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a two inch trashrack spacing and an approach velocity of 1.5 feet per second. A stipulation that at least 1,000 cfs of water must always be allowed to spill over the dam will be included to regulate operation such that waters below the dam will receive necessary re-aeration to preserve existing aquatic habitats. The project will be operated as a ‘run of the river’ facility and pose no effect to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) operation of the lock and dam.

“The powerhouse will be controlled with an automated system that would automatically start up, run, and shut down the turbines,” the agency added. “The automated system would allow the USACE to modify hydroelectric operations instantaneously in response to emergencies related to lock operation or flood control. All materials involved with construction will be removed from the floodway at the end of the project.”

In a December 2013 application with the Illinois EPA for this Section 401 permit, which was filed for informational purposes in the license application case at FERC, the company said: “Upon receipt of all relevant state and federal permits, present plans are to begin construction mobilization in the fall of 2014 with construction completed by spring 2016.”

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.