FERC urged to issue licenses soon for two hydroelectric projects in Kentucky

Lock 14 Hydro Partners LLC and Lock 12 Hydro Partners LLC on Nov. 23 jointly urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue license orders for the Heidelberg Hydroelectric Project and Ravenna Hydroelectric Project.

Both projects would be located on the Kentucky River and make use of existing, abandoned navigation locks of the Kentucky River Authority (KRA), with the Heidelberg Project located at the existing Lock and Dam No. 14 and the Ravenna Project located at Lock and Dam No. 12. The applications for licenses for these new hydroelectric projects were filed with the commission in May 2012.

The environmental documentation for the projects was completed with the issuance of an Environmental Assessment on Feb. 25, 2015. The Environmental Assessment confirmed that the applicants had secured all necessary federal and state approvals required for license issuance, either through this licensing proceeding before the commission or on its own terms.

“Due to impending business operations and planning decisions that must be made for the next calendar year, the Applicants urgently request Commission action on its licensing proposals,” said the Nov. 23 filing. “Time is of particular sensitivity as the Applicants discuss project funding proposals and initiate negotiations regarding power purchase agreements. In addition, the KRA has now included the removal of the Lock Houses at Lock 12 in its current fiscal budget, and their removal is now imminent, for public safety reasons. The Applicant has a team ready to document these structures, as called for in the Cultural Resource Plan, as soon as the license is issued and the Applicant then has authority to implement this part of the plan. If the structures are torn down before the license is issued, part of the agreed-to Cultural Resource Plan will not be able to be implemented. The Applicants therefore request expedited action in these licensing proceedings and ask that licenses for the projects be issued by no later than December 15, 2015.

“License issuance for the projects is consistent with recent congressional action intended to spur hydropower development at existing dams. In unanimously passing the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (‘HREA’), Congress found that ‘only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams in the United States generate electricity, so there is substantial potential for adding hydropower generation to nonpowered dams.’ In that legislation, Congress also cited a study in finding that, ‘by utilizing currently untapped resources, the United States could add approximately 60,000 megawatts of new hydropower capacity by 2025, which could create 700,000 new jobs over the next 13 years.

“Passage of the HREA reflects the conventional wisdom that the nation’s hydroelectric generation capacity can swell with little to no consequences for environmental or cultural resources simply by making a priority of retrofitting existing dams with hydroelectric facilities. The licensing process in these two proceedings proves exactly that point. By proposing to make use of the existing lock and dam facilities of the KRA, the Applicants have designed projects that will have minimal environmental or cultural impacts, as demonstrated above, and will increase renewable generation resources for electric consumers in the Midwest. The Heidelberg and Ravenna Hydroelectric Projects are just the type of projects that Congress intended to foster with passage of the HREA. The Applicants are committed to develop these projects and looks forward to commencing project development in earnest as Federal Power Act licensees.”

These projects are:

  • The Heidelberg Project would consist: of an existing concrete gravity dam; an abandoned navigation lock; a stone dike that tapers down from a 20-foot maximum height to ground level; an existing 182-acre reservoir with a gross storage capacity of about 1,820 acre-feet; a new trashrack to be installed on the upstream side of the powerhouse; a new concrete powerhouse containing four 660-kW Kaplan turbine/generator units with a total capacity of 2.64 MW; and a new 1,000-foot-long, 12.47-kV overhead transmission line that would connect to Jackson Energy Cooperative’s distribution line.
  • The Ravenna Project would consist of: an existing concrete gravity dam, an abandoned navigation lock; an earthen dike that tapers down from a 13-foot maximum height to ground level; an existing 345-acre reservoir with a gross storage capacity of about 3,450 acre-feet; a new trashrack to be installed on the upstream side of the powerhouse; a new concrete powerhouse containing four 660-kW Kaplan turbine/generator units with a total capacity of 2.64 MW; and a new 1,500-foot-long, 12.47-kV overhead transmission line that would connect to Jackson Energy Cooperative’s distribution line.

Both projects would operate run-of-river. The Heidelberg and Ravenna Projects would have an average annual generation of 10,484 megawatt-hours (MWh) and 10,673 MWh, respectively.

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.