FERC seeks enviro input on six hydroelectric projects on the Monongahela River

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 released for 30 days of comment a combined environmental assessment on February 2014 license applications for the construction and operation of six hydropower projects to be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams on the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania.

The projects are:

  • FFP Missouri 16 LLC’s proposed 6-MW Opekiska Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at river mile (RM) 115.4 on the Monongahela River in Monongalia County, West Virginia.
  • FFP Missouri 15 LLC’s proposed 5-MW Morgantown Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project, which would be located at RM 102.0 on the Monongahela River in Monongalia County, West Virginia.
  • Solia 8 Hydroelectric LLC’s proposed 5-MW Point Marion Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at RM 90.8 on the Monongahela River in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
  • FFP Missouri 13 LLC’s proposed 12-MW Grays Landing Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project, which would be located at RM 82.0 on the Monongahela River in Greene and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania.
  • Solia 5 Hydroelectric LLC’s proposed 13-MW Maxwell Locks and Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at RM 61.2 on the Monongahela River in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
  • Solia 4 Hydroelectric LLC’s proposed 12-MW Monongahela Locks and Dam 4 Hydroelectric Project, to be located at RM 41.5 on the Monongahela River in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The Monongahela and Allegheny rivers join to form the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. The Corps owns 38 locks and dams on these rivers—nine on the Monongahela River, eight on the Allegheny River, and 21 on the Ohio River. The Corps operates these locks and dams for commercial and recreational navigation.

  • The Opekiska Project would consist of a new 180-foot-long, 95-foot-wide intake channel excavated into the riverbed leading to a 30-foot-long, 70-foot-wide, 50-foot-high reinforced concrete intake structure that would convey flow past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 120-foot-long, 70-foot-wide, 60-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse on the west bank of the river, housing two equally sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 6 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 280-foot-long, 64-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed.  Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 175-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing distribution line with a 3,111-foot-long, 12.5-kV, overhead transmission line.
  • The Morgantown Project would consist of a new 100-foot-long, 64-foot-wide intake channel excavated into the riverbed immediately downstream of spillway gate 6 on the east side of the river and lead to a 30-foot-long, 64-foot-wide, 50-foot-high reinforced concrete intake structure. The intake structure would convey flow past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 120-foot-long, 70-foot-wide, 60-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse housing two equally sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 5 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 170-foot-long, 90-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed. Two 30-foot-wide spill gates would be constructed within the intake channel to pass the equivalent of the amount of flow through the Corps’ spillway gate 6. Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 420-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing distribution line with a 2,162-foot-long, 12.5-kV, overhead transmission line.
  • The Point Marion Project would consist of a new 280-foot-long, 70-foot-wide intake channel, which would be excavated into the riverbed and lead to a 30-foot-long, 70-foot-wide, 50-foot-high, reinforced concrete intake structure. The intake structure would convey flows past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 120-foot-long, 70-foot-wide, 60-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse on the east bank of the river. The powerhouse would house two equally sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 5 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 215-foot-long, 84-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed. Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 325-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing substation with a 4,051-foot-long, 69-kV, overhead transmission line.
  • The Grays Landing Project would consist of a new 300-foot-long, 130-foot-wide intake channel excavated into the riverbed leading to a 100-foot-long, 84-foot-wide reinforced concrete intake structure that would convey flows past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 150-foot-long, 90-foot-wide, 75-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse housing two equally-sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 12 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 250-foot-long, 84-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed. A 2.5-foot-high adjustable crest gate would be constructed across the entire length of the existing dam crest to control the water surface elevation to ensure sufficient depth for navigation in the upstream pool. Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 155-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing distribution line with a 9,965-foot-long, 69-kV, overhead transmission line.
  • The Maxwell Project would consist of a new 130-foot-long, 85-foot-wide intake channel excavated into the riverbed immediately downstream of the Corps’ spillway gate 5 on the east side of the river and lead to a 100-foot-long, 85-foot-wide, 70-foot-high reinforced concrete intake structure. The intake structure would convey flows past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 150-foot-long, 90-foot-wide, 70-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse housing two equally-sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 13 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 160-foot-long, 120-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed. Two 42-foot-wide spill gates would be constructed within the intake channel to pass the equivalent of the amount of flow through the Corps’ spillway gate Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 2,800-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing distribution line with a 350-foot-long, 69/138-kV, overhead transmission line.
  • The Charleroi Project would consist of a new 140-foot-long, 90-foot-wide intake channel excavated into the riverbed immediately downstream of the Corps’ spillway gate 5 on the west side of the river leading to a 100-foot-long, 90-foot-wide, 65-foot-high reinforced concrete intake structure that would convey flows past a trash rack with 3-inch clear bar spacing to a new 150-foot-long, 90-foot-wide, 70-foot-high reinforced concrete powerhouse housing two equally-sized horizontal pit Kaplan-type turbine-generator units with a combined capacity of 12 MW. Flows would exit the powerhouse into a 210-foot-long, 130-foot-wide tailrace excavated into the riverbed. Two 42-foot-wide spill gates would be constructed within the intake channel to pass the equivalent of the amount of flow through the Corps’ spillway gate 5. Project power would be transmitted from the powerhouse to a new project substation with a 130-foot-long, medium-voltage, buried cable, and from there to an existing distribution line with a 45-foot-long, 69-kV, overhead transmission line.

The projects would operate in a run-of-release mode, using flows made available by the Corps that would normally be released over the dams through the Corps’ gates or spillways. The applicants also propose to maintain the water surface elevations of each pool upstream of the dams in accordance with the Corps’ current management practice of providing adequate water depth for navigation. As a result, the water surface elevations of each upstream pool, with the exception of Grays Landing, would match existing water surface elevations.

Before filing license applications, the companies conducted pre-filing consultation under the traditional licensing process. The intent of the commission’s pre-filing process is to initiate public involvement early in the project planning process and to encourage citizens, governmental entities, tribes, and other interested parties to identify and resolve issues prior to an application being formally filed with the Commission. 

After the applications were filed, FERC conducted scoping to determine what issues and alternatives should be addressed. It issued a scoping document for the projects in September 2014, conducted environmental site reviews in October 2014 and conducted scoping meetings in October 2014. Based on discussions during the site visits and scoping meetings and written comments received during the comment period, it issued a revised scoping document in December 2015. On the same date, FERC issued notice that the applications were ready for environmental analysis and requested terms and conditions, comments, and recommendations for each project.

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.