FERC refuses to extend permit for small Texas hydroelectric project

Saying the developer failed to make adequate progress toward project licensing during the term of a preliminary permit, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 8 refused an application to extend that permit by another two years.

On March 13, Hydro Green Energy LLC (HGE) filed, on behalf of subsidiary Lock Hydro Friends Fund I, an application for a successive preliminary permit for the proposed Longhorn Dam Project, to be located at the City of Austin’s Longhorn Dam on the Lower Colorado River in the City of Austin, in Travis County, Texas. In March 2012, commission staff issued Lock Hydro a preliminary permit to preserve Lock Hydro’s first priority in applying for a license for the proposed project while Lock Hydro studied the proposed project’s feasibility.

The proposed project would consist of: the existing 506-foot-long, 36-foot-high Longhorn dam; the existing reservoir with a surface area of 525.0 acres and a storage capacity of 6,000 acre-feet; two prefabricated concrete walls attached to the downstream side of the dam which would support one power stack, also known as a frame module; the frame module with two generating units with a total combined capacity of 2.2 MW; a new switchyard containing a transformer; and a proposed 300-foot-long, 13-kV transmission line connecting to an existing distribution line. The proposed project would have an average annual generation of 10.6 megawatt-hours.

FERC staff reviewed each of the five semi-annual progress reports filed for this permit. The first report consisted of two sentences that did not describe any progress in pursuing a development application, said the Sept. 8 order. The second and third reports were limited to a one page letter that contained a single, short paragraph intended to report the progress on between 7 and 10 permits. No specific progress was described. Lock Hydro failed to file a fourth report.

In March 2014, staff issued a letter stating the fourth report was overdue and gave Lock Hydro 30 days to file the report. Lock Hydro did not respond. Consequently, on April 23, 2014, staff issued an order cancelling the preliminary permit. Then in March came the application for a successive permit.

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.