Alabama agency reviews Birch Power permit app for 48-MW hydro project

Birch Power Co. has applied to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 water quality certification as part of its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license application for a proposed hydroelectric project at Demopolis Lock and Dam.

The ADEM is soliciting comments and information from interested parties until June 17 regarding this application.

Birch Power, with its principal office located at 5230 South 11th East Idaho Falls, Idaho, 83404, has applied for a 401 water quality certification for the operation of turbine generators at the Demopolis Lock and Dam. This is the Demopolis Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 13102) and it is located in the Tombigbee River Basin near Demopolis, Alabama.

The applicant is currently awaiting further notice from the FERC regarding various aspects of the project, ADEM said in a public notice about the Section 401 permitting.

Upon the expiration of the comment period, a response to all significant comments will be prepared. After consideration of all comments received during the notice period and the requirements of the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act and appropriate regulations, the ADEM Director will make a final decision regarding certification issuance.

The project would be constructed at the Demopolis Lock and Dam on the Tombigbee River at River Mile 218.1 near Demopolis, Alabama, about 50 miles south of Tuscaloosa. It would consist of:

  • improvements to a 1.2 mile long existing access road to the project location;
  • construction of a 900 ft long intake channel to route water from above Demopolis Dam into a new powerhouse intake adjacent to the north end of Demopolis Dam;
  • construction of a new powerhouse containing two Kaplan turbine/generator units with a combined hydraulic capacity of 20,000 cfs and a combined generating capacity of 48 MW;
  • excavation of a 2,000 ft long tailrace channel within the chalk shelf forming the overbank area on the north side of the Tombigbee River below Demopolis Dam;
  • construction of an electrical substation on top of the powerhouse; and
  • construction of a new 4.4-mile-long, 115-kV transmission line to interconnect with the existing electrical grid.

Demopolis Dam and Lake is part of the Black Warrior–Tombigbee Project owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps. The project began construction in 1949 and was completed in the latter part of 1955.

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.