FERC rejects second permit for Coralville hydro project in Iowa

On Oct. 6, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected an Aug 28 application from Coralville Energy LLC for a successive preliminary permit for the proposed Coralville Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at the existing Coralville Dam on the Iowa River, near Iowa City in Johnson County, Iowa.

In August 2012, FERC staff issued Coralville Energy a three-year preliminary permit for the project. It would consist of: one new 50-foot-long by 50-foot-wide by 30-foot-high powerhouse, containing two 2.3 MW propeller-type turbine/generator units for a total capacity of 4.6 MW; an existing 65-foot-long by 65-foot-wide by 100-foot-high intake structure; an existing 350-foot-long by 23-foot-diameter concrete conduit; a new 30-foot-long by 60-foot-wide by 30-foot-high bifurcation structure; a new 150-foot-long by 15-foot-diameter steel penstock; and a new 450-foot-long, 12.7-kV transmission line. In the application for the successive preliminary permit, the company proposed to bump up the project’s total capacity to 5.5 MW.

FERC staff reviewed each of the five semi-annual progress reports filed by Coralville Energy under its initial preliminary permit. The information provided in each report is nearly identical and references ongoing outreach and consultation efforts, design concepts, potential fatal flaw analyses, and continuing preparation of a Notice of Intent and Pre-Application Document related to a license application, which were, according to the fourth progress report, intended to be filed in the third quarter of 2014 but were never filed. Additionally, the progress reports contained no information about conducting or coordinating studies, FERC noted.

Further, the study plan identified in the successive permit application is identical to the study plan proposed in the initial permit application, suggesting that Coralville Energy has done very little work toward preparation of a development application under the initial preliminary permit, said FERC.

Said the Oct. 6 order: “The record under the prior permit shows that Coralville Energy did not pursue the requirements of its prior permit with due diligence for purposes of receiving a successive permit because it fails to demonstrate progress toward preparing a development application. Therefore, Coralville Energy’s application for a successive preliminary permit is denied.” Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days from the date of this order.