FERC okays new license for to-be-upgraded North Carolina hydro facilities of Alcoa

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 22 approved an April 2006 apoplication from Alcoa Power Generating for a new license to continue operation and maintenance of its Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.

The project’s authorized capacity being licensed is 210.51 MW. The project is located on the Yadkin River near the City of Charlotte in Davie, Davidson, Montgomery, Rowan, and Stanly counties, North Carolina.

The development includes these components:

  • The High Rock Development consists of a 14,400-acre reservoir at a full pool elevation of 623.9 feet U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with a usable storage capacity of 217,400 acre-feet. The powerhouse is integral with the dam and contains three turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 32.91 MW.
  • The Tuckertown Development consists of a 2,560-acre reservoir at a full pool elevation of 564.7 feet, with a usable storage capacity of 6,700 acre-feet. The powerhouse is integral with the dam and contains three turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 38.04 MW.
  • The Narrows Development consists of a 5,355-acre reservoir at a full pool elevation of 509.8 feet, with a usable storage capacity of 129,100 acre-feet. The powerhouse is located 280 feet downstream of the dam and contains four turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 110.36 MW. Included in the project is an approximately 1.5-mile-long, four circuit, 13.2-kV transmission line extending from the Narrows Development to the Badin Substation.
  • The Falls Development consists of a 204-acre reservoir at a full pool elevation of 332.8 feet, with a usable storage capacity of 940 acre-feet. The powerhouse is integral with the dam and contains three turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 31.13 MW. Included in the project is an approximately 2.8-mile-long, single-circuit, 100-kV transmission line extending from the Falls Development to the Badin Substation.

Alcoa Generating proposes as part this new licensing to refurbish the following turbine/generator units:

  • High Rock Development Units 1, 2, and 3;
  • Tuckertown Development Units 1, 2, and 3;
  • Narrows Development Unit 3;
  • and Falls Development Units 1, 2, and 3.

The modifications will increase capacity at the High Rock and Narrows Developments and decrease capacity at the Tuckertown and Falls Developments. Overall, the project’s total authorized installed capacity will decrease from 212.44 MW to 210.51 MW.

  • At High Rock, the company plans to refurbish Units 1, 2, and 3, which will result in improved hydraulic efficiency. When completed, the development’s total authorized installed capacity will increase from 32.9 MW to 40.32 MW.
  • At Tuckertown, the company plans to refurbish Units 1, 2, and 3 to improve hydraulic efficiency. When completed, the development’s total authorized installed capacity will decrease from 38.04 MW to 28.62 MW.
  • At Narrows, Alcoa Generating proposes to refurbish Unit 3 in order to improve hydraulic efficiency. When completed, the development’s total authorized installed capacity will increase from 110.36 to 110.7 MW.
  • At Falls, Alcoa Generating proposes to refurbish the development’s three generating units to improve hydraulic efficiency. When completed, the development’s total authorized installed capacity would decrease from 31.13 MW to 30.87 MW.

Alcoa Generating completed upgrades to the Narrows Development Units 2 and 4 under the prior license. In its relicense application, Alcoa Generating also proposed to upgrade the Narrows Development Unit 1, but it subsequently completed that upgrade as well. The current turbines at the Tuckertown and Falls Developments make inefficient use of flows. Alcoa Generating proposes to reduce the size of the turbines at these developments to achieve more efficient use of the available flows. A decrease in authorized capacity at these developments will result in an overall decrease in installed capacity for the project.

Notable is that FERC on Aug. 24 approved a July 12 application from Alcoa Inc. and Alcoa Power Generating for authorization for an upstream change in ownership of Alcoa Power, including its wholly owned subsidiary, Alcoa Power Marketing LLC, from Alcoa Inc. to a newly-created company, Alcoa Corp. Alcoa Inc., the parent company of Alcoa Power, will be reorganized into two independent, publicly-traded companies. One will be Alcoa Upstream Corp. (to be renamed Alcoa Corp. prior to the separation). Alcoa Inc.’s present value-add businesses will remain with the present company, which will be renamed Arconic Inc. The reorganization and eventual separation of these companies is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016. As a result of the reorganization, Alcoa Power will move from being a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc. (soon to become Arconic) to being a subsidiary of Alcoa Corp.

Alcoa Inc. is a vertically-integrated company producing an array of aluminum products, ranging from the raw materials of bauxite and electric energy to finished industrial products. Alcoa Inc.’s generating assets that supply its operations in the United States are held through Alcoa Power.

Included in the Alcoa Power assets in the corporate split is the Yadkin Division The power generated there was supplied to Alcoa Inc., which is no longer in operation in the region but continues to have an electricity load of approximately 1 MW. The bulk of the power is sold into the wholesale market. Yadkin is its own balancing authority area (BAA), owning and operating approximately 21 miles of 13.8 kV and 100 kV transmission lines that interconnect with the Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress BAAs.

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.