Albany Engineering seeks new permit for Waterford hydro project in New York

Albany Engineering Corp. (AEC), which had three-year preliminary permit for a New York hydroelectric project that expired on July 31, on Sept. 22 applied with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend that permit by another three years so it can continue to explore project feasibility.

AEC said that in the first three years it made significant progress in its efforts to perform the work required to determine the feasibility of the Waterford Hydroelectric Project and to support an application for license. However, additional time is required to select the development scenario best suited for this location, which is on the Hudson River.

AEC noted that it is the licensee of the hydroelectric projects immediately upstream (Mechanicville) and downstream (Green Island, with the Green Island Power Authority) of the proposed Waterford Hydroelectric Project.

Development of new generating facilities at the site would require construction of a new electrical line (tap) that is 10,000 feet long and runs to an electrical interconnection point at the existing Waterford-Schaghticoke 34.5 kV transmission line owned and operated by National Grid.

There is no existing generating equipment at the project site. There are three potential run-of-river development scenarios that will be studied under the requested preliminary permit. Development Scenarios 1 and 2 will take into consideration the pending expansion of the downstream Green Island Hydroelectric Project. Scenario 3 incorporates the attributes of the project site into the upstream Mechanicville Hydroelectric Project.

DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO 1

Development Scenario 1 will study the construction of a new powerhouse at the east end of the dam to house two identical generating units, each at a rated capacity of 5,100 kW. Scenario 1 anticipates that the project will be operational year-round at a headwater elevation of 28.3 feet and tailwater elevation of 18.5 feet. Based on that condition, the estimated average energy production is 39,000,000 kWh at the total installed capacity of 10,200 kW. Currently, the tainter gates at Waterford are raised during the non-navigation season to reduce the impoundment elevation and lowered during the navigation season to increase that elevation. These seasonal modifications are intended to mitigate flooding and ice damage upstream of Lock C1. This work is scheduled and performed by the New York State Canal Corp. (NYSCC). For Scenario 1, AEC would consult with NYSCC to develop an operating agreement for the operation of the tainter gates that would continue to mitigate flooding and protect the Lock C1 while optimizing the energy generating potential of the site.

DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO 2

Development Scenario 2 will study the seasonal installation of two identical, modular floating barge-type marine structures. The HydroBarges will be moored at the west end of the tainter gates during the canal navigation season (May-November) and removed from the site during the non-navigation season (December-April). When moored, the HydroBarges will rest on a foundation consisting of four steel and reinforced concrete pylons, each four feet in diameter with a minimum embedded foundation length of 52 feet that will be socketed into bedrock. The HydroBarges will be hydraulically connected to the tainter gate section with non-load bearing, inflatable seals. Each HydroBarge will be equipped with nine turbine/generator units with a combined rating of 2,000 kW at the design head of approximately 12 feet. The HydroBarges will utilize only flows in excess of navigational requirements. This configuration provides a total of 18 turbine/generators with a total installed capacity of 4,000 kilowatts and estimated average energy production of 12,000,000 kWh.

DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO 3

Development Scenario 3 does not involve the installation of any new generating capacity directly at the project site. It will study the possibility of expanding the seasonal generating potential at AEC’s Mechanicville Hydroelectric Project located at Lock C2, approximately 3.9 miles upstream of Lock C1. The tailwater pool at the Mechanicville Project is the same as the impoundment at the Waterford Project, which creates the potential to utilize the seasonal modifications in the impoundment elevation at the Waterford site, which are related to the seasonal transitions between navigation and non-navigation seasons on the Champlain Canal, to increase the effective net head at the Mechanicville Project during a longer period of the year than currently occurs. The seasonal change effectively increases the available operating head at the Mechanicville Project from approximately 18 feet during the navigation season to approximately 22 feet during the non-navigation season. Scenario 3 would not directly increase the installed nameplate capacity or the maximum hydraulic capacity of the Mechanicville Project, but would increase the estimated average annual generation from 19,000,000 kWh to 25,000,000 kWh.

A project contact is: Wendy Jo Carey, P.E., Albany Engineering Corp., 5 Washington Square, Albany, NY 12205, (518) 456-7712 ext 401.

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.