The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 29 rejected March 1 applications from Percheron Power LLC for three preliminary permits to study the feasibility of hydro projects in the state of Washington.
The proposed projects are:
- the 2.02-MW Pothole East Canal at PEC Station 1973 Project;
- the 1.42-MW Scooteney Reservoir Inlet at Pothole East Canal Project; and
- the 1.75-MW Scooteney Reservoir Outlet at Pothole East Canal Project.
All of the projects would be located on the Pothole East Canal near Othello and Mesa in Franklin County, Washington. The Pothole East Canal is part of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, which is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
In August 2013, President Obama signed the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act.” The Act, among other things, withdraws the commission’s jurisdiction over non-federal hydropower development (5 MW or less) on Reclamation conduits, which includes any Reclamation tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity.
In a Sept. 22 order, the commission confirmed that the Act withdraws the commission’s jurisdiction to authorize new, small conduit hydroelectric projects of 5 MW or less within Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, including at the Pothole East Canal. Because the proposed projects would be located on a Reclamation canal and have an installed capacity of less than 5 MW, the commission said it would be precluded from issuing an exemption or license for these projects.
Since the sole purpose of a preliminary permit is to maintain priority of application to file an exemption or license, which the commission can no longer issue for a project at this site, no purpose would be served by issuing preliminary permits for these proposed projects, the commission ruled. This Sept. 29 order constitutes final agency action. Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days of the date of its issuance.