On Sept. 29, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected March 1 preliminary permit applications from NortHydro LLC to study the feasibility of two projects in the state of Washington.
The rejected applications covered:
- the proposed 0.8-MW 46A Wasteway Hydroelectric Project; and
- the 1.5-MW 16.4 Wasteway Hydroelectric Project.
Both projects would be located on wasteways near Richland in Franklin County, Washington. The 46A and 16.4 Wasteways are part of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, which is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
In August 2013, President Obama signed into law 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.
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.
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.