FERC okays Smith Creek Hydro buy of Idaho facility

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 4 approved a Feb. 5 application from Smith Creek Hydro LLC for it to acquire from Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) the Smith Creek Hydroelectric Project and certain associated jurisdictional facilities.

EWEB is a municipal utility which serves retail electricity and water consumers in the area of Eugene, Oregon. EWEB owns the Smith Creek Project, which is a 37.8-MW small power production qualifying facility (QF) located in Boundary County, Idaho, and situated within the Bonneville Power Administration balancing authority area (BPA BAA).

Smith Creek Hydro, authorized to sell power at market-based rates, is owned 25 percent by Smith Creek Management LLC and 75 percent by Smith Creek Holdings Inc.

  • Smith Creek Holdings is indirectly wholly owned by 1428802 Alberta Ltd., which is wholly owned by the Budzinski Family Trust of which Victor Budzinski is the sole trustee. Budzinski is the Chief Executive Officer of Valard Construction Ltd., which is a utility contractor, and is a shareholder of publicly-traded energy companies, in each case holding less than 10 percent of the outstanding publicly-traded shares of such companies. 
  • Smith Creek Management is owned 90 percent and controlled by Thom Fischer, and 10 percent by Steve Marmon. Fischer is the sole owner of Tollhouse Energy Co., a corporation under the laws of Washington engaged in the development, ownership, and operation of renewable energy projects. 

Smith Creek Hydro owns, among other entities, Black Creek Hydro Inc. and Electron Hydro LLC. Black Creek owns and operates the 3.8 MW Black Creek Hydroelectric Project located in King County, Washington. Electron Hydro owns and operates the 25.8 MW Electron Hydroelectric Project located in Pierce County, Washington.

According to Smith Creek Hydro, except for Black Creek and Electron Hydro, none of Smith Creek Hydro or any of its affiliates own or control any electric generation facilities that are currently in operation in the United States. Also, none of Smith Creek Hydro or any of its affiliates own or control interests in transmission or distribution facilities, except for limited interconnection facilities, in the United States. In addition, none of Smith Creek or any of its affiliates own or control any inputs to electric power production.

The now-approved transaction involves an asset sales agreement between EWEB and Smith Creek Hydro. Smith Creek Hydro will acquire from EWEB the Smith Creek Project and these associated assets: a power transfer agreement; a power purchase agreement; documents, permits, and legacy contracts; and interconnection facilities. The power transfer agreement, which is between EWEB and Northern Lights Inc., currently allows Northern Lights, a cooperative association, to utilize a 30.5-mile, 115-kilovolt transmission line (Smith Creek Project Line) for a demand limit of up to 3 MW to serve a small portion of its retail customer base. Smith Creek Hydro states that it will assume EWEB’s rights and responsibilities under that agreement for its remaining term, through January 2020.

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.