Developer asks FERC for more time under permit for Massachusetts hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission got a Dec. 15 letter from New England Hydropower Co. LLC asking to extend a preliminary permit issued in February 2013 for a small hydro project.

Under its current terms, this preliminary permit will expire on Feb. 10, 2016. NEHC requests that this expiration date be extended to Feb. 10, 2017.

The project site, the Cochrane Dam, is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. While no prohibition exists concerning the long-term leasing of state infrastructure for projects that will provide public benefits, including additional sources of zero-emission electric generation, there is no clear process available to lease state-owned infrastructure beyond one year, the company said.

NEHC has been dworking with Massachusetts administrative agencies, including the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, the Massachusetts Office of Administration and Finance, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as with the Massachusetts Great and General Court, to develop a state leasing program that satisfies FERC’s requirements concerning long-term site control and property rights.

In addition to these leasing efforts, NEHC has engaged in consultations with the Massachusetts Office of Historic Preservation, the Massachusetts Office of Economic Development, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, the Charles River Watershed Association, and the Towns of Needham and Dover concerning project acceptance and sale of electricity, the associated impacts, and overall feasibility of developing the project at the Cochrane Dam.

The agencies consulted have all been supportive of the proposed project, which would facilitate safe and effective upstream and downstream passage for a series of fish species targeted for restoration in Massachusetts and would provide a new source of clean, emission free generation to the Commonwealth, said the company.

NEHC has determined the project to be economically feasible and constructible. Flow calculations developed by NEHC demonstrate that the proposed technology and project design could be constructed and operated to produce approximately 870,000 kWh annually.

It is likely, based on current discussions with the Massachusetts agencies and with the Massachusetts Great and General Court, that the long-term leasing of the Cochrane Dam Hydroelectric Project will be authorized during the current legislative year ending June 30, 2016, the company added.

NEHC requests that the commission extend the term of this preliminary permit to Feb. 10, 2017, for a total preliminary permit period of five years.

A project contact is: (339) 293-3157, carol@nehydropower.com, Carol Wasserman, Principal, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, New England Hydropower Co. LLC.

The Cochrane Dam Project is to be located on the Charles River near Needham and Dover in Norfolk County, Mass. It would consist of: an existing stone masonry spillway dam with concrete retaining walls; an existing impoundment; an existing head box and intake channel; a new sluice gate equipped with a trashrack; a new 50-foot-long, 13-foot-wide Archimedes screw generator unit with an installed capacity of 170 kW; a new powerhouse containing a new gearbox and electrical controls; an existing tailrace; and a new above ground 300-foot-long, 35-kV transmission line connecting the powerhouse to the NSTAR grid.

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.