FERC terminates license for small hydropower project in Montana

The members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, citing a lack of construction by a deadline, on March 19 terminated the license for a 4.7-MW hydro project in Montana.

In June 2014, commission staff issued a notice finding that Clark Canyon Hydro LLC, licensee for the proposed 4.7-MW Clark Canyon Dam Hydroelectric Project, had failed to commence construction of the project by the statutory deadline and notifying Clark Canyon of the consequent probable termination of its license.

Clark Canyon responded in July 2014, arguing that it has met the standard for the commencement of project construction. It provided: a copy of a May 2011 contract between it and the turbine manufacturer for the manufacture of turbine generating equipment; and a letter from its turbine manufacturer dated May 2012, certifying the start of physical work as of October 2011. In the alternative, Clark Canyon requested that the commission retroactively stay the commencement of construction deadline. In August 2014, Clark Canyon filed a letter from an auditor confirming payments from Clark Canyon to the turbine manufacturer.

But, said the March 19 FERC order: “In the case of the Clark Canyon Dam Project, the licensee demonstrated that off-site fabrication would take slightly longer than on-site activities. However, Clark Canyon failed to satisfy the pre-construction requirements in the license and the turbine/generators that were built were not those authorized in the license. Accordingly, we find that Clark Canyon failed to commence construction by the deadline required by its license.”

The company’s request for a stay, FERC said that it will not grant a licensee’s request for a stay merely to relieve the licensee of the statutorily prescribed commencement of construction deadline, and the commission has not been willing to grant a stay to prevent mandatory termination where, because of the licensee’s own actions or inactions, construction was not commenced prior to the statutory deadline.

The Clark Canyon Dam Project was licensed in August 2009. The project was to be located at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation’s Clark Canyon Dam on the Beaverhead River in Beaverhead County, Montana, and would use Reclamation’s dam, reservoir, and outlet works. The project would have involved construction of a 7.9-mile-long, 69-kV overhead transmission line connecting to Idaho Power’s Peterson Flat substation.

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.