FERC grants permit for 8-MW Bosher Dam hydro project in Virginia

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 12 approved a Feb. 19 application from Energy Resources USA Inc. for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the proposed Bosher Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at the existing Bosher Dam on the James River about two miles southwest of Tuckahoe in Henrico County, Virginia.

The proposed project would consist of: an existing 12-foot-high dam; a 1,000-acre impoundment with a storage capacity of 2,100 acre-feet and drainage area of 6,753 square miles; a new 700-foot-long, 180-foot-wide intake; a new 300-foot-long, 180-foot-wide tailrace; four new 2-MW turbines; a new 65-foot-long, 197-foot-wide powerhouse; a new 60-foot-long, 50-foot-wide substation; and a new 528-foot-long, 69-kV transmission line. The estimated annual generation of the project would be 68,500 megawatthours.

Comments were filed by parties like the James River Association, Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (City DPU).

The City DPU, James River Association and others questioned the need for the project, stating that the project area is already served by three major power plants and a number of co-generation plants. FERC noted that it does not condition issuance of a preliminary permit upon a finding that it is in the public interest because to make such a finding would require the information and conclusions that are to be developed during the permit phase. So it didn’t rule on that complaint.

The city of Richmond asserted that the project may interfere with its water rights, the city’s shared ownership interest in Bosher Dam and the Kanawha Canal, and various withdrawal and instream benefits provided by the James River. The City DPU and James River Association also expressed concerns related to the city’s water withdrawal rights. Said FERC: “However, the Commission does not require an applicant for a preliminary permit to acquire, as a prerequisite to receiving a permit, all rights, such as water rights, that may be necessary for the operation of the proposed project. Determining the water rights necessary for project operation is a matter to be evaluated during the permit term.”

The purpose of this three-year preliminary permit is to study the feasibility of the project, including studying potential impacts. The concerns raised in the comments are premature at the preliminary permit stage, in that they address the potential effects of constructing and operating the proposed project, FERC ruled. Should the permittee file a license application, these issues will be addressed in the licensing process.

During the course of the permit, the commission expects that the permittee will carry out pre-filing consultation and study development leading to the possible development of a license application.

The applicant contact is: Ander Gonzalez, Energy Resources USA Inc., 350 Lincoln Road, 2nd Floor, Miami Beach, FL  33139; phone: (954) 248-5425.

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.