FERC issues permit for 5-MW California hydro project

Archon Energy 1 Inc. on June 5 was granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a preliminary permit on a 5-MW hydroelectric project in California.

On Jan. 6, Archon Energy 1 filed this application for a three-year preliminary permit so it could study the feasibility of the proposed Black Butte Afterbay Hydropower Project, to be located on Stony Creek near the city of Orland in Glenn County, Calif.

The project would be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Black Butte dam and would utilize the existing infrastructure and afterbay of the dam. It would consist of: a bypass intake in the afterbay of Black Butte reservoir; two 2,800-foot-long pressurized, reinforced concrete pipes creating about 20 feet of head; a powerhouse, containing two low-head, 2.5-MW Kaplan turbine-generators; and an undefined interconnection point to the grid within several hundred feet of the proposed powerhouse. The estimated annual generation would be 22,000 megawatt-hours.

The City of Santa Clara is a licensee of two projects currently using the same water resources as Archon’s proposed project. Archon’s project would be located immediately downstream from Santa Clara’s Black Butte Project and upstream of its High Line Canal Project. Santa Clara stated that it takes no position with respect to Archon’s pursuit of the Black Butte Afterbay project at this time. However, it raised two concerns so that any future action by the commission will not jeopardize Santa Clara’s existing projects.

In its application, Archon states that it intends to operate the proposed Black Butte Afterbay Project as “run of river.” However, Santa Clara cautioned that any restrictions requiring the retention of water by Archon could affect water levels in the Black Butte afterbay, and consequently may affect the amount of water that it would be able to discharge from its upstream Black Butte Project, thereby affecting the production capabilities and economics of that project.

Santa Clara is further concerned that the proposed project may affect downstream water quality and quantity for its High Line Canal Project.

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.