Black Canyon Hydro drops license app for 25-MW project in Washington

Citing local opposition, Black Canyon Hydro LLC (BCH) on Oct. 13 dropped at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission its December 2015 Draft License Application for a 25-MW project in Washington.

As an independent power producer (IPP), Black Canyon Hydro said it would be a privately-owned project subject to strict real-time energy market conditions and future market forecasts. The project would not be subsidized in a blended multi-project rate structure. Energy from the project would most likely be sold to Puget Sound Energy (PSE), which has identified the specific need for more energy generation to serve the growing Bellevue and East King County Metro area in its Integrated Resource Plan.

The King County Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Code and Shoreline Master Program may not currently permit the project without a plan and code amendment. The “Protected Stream” designation of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Fish and Wildlife Conservation Plan also recommends that hydropower development be outright prohibited within the subject river reach. BCH said it believes the project would be compliant with applicable plans and codes if viewed favorably.

BCH has performed extensive studies including hydrology, fish and wildlife, geology, cultural and recreational resource studies. It has substantially modified the project in response to agency and stakeholder input as a result. The project would provide about 110 GWh energy annually.

Representatives of the City of Snoqualmie, King County, the Snoqualmie Tribe and the Washington State Deptartment of Natural Resources have all objected to the project as proposed. “It is the opinion of BCH Principals that the current King County administration of the comprehensive plan, policies, land use and shoreline codes do not adequately support the development of significant new hydropower projects on a community scale,” said the Oct. 13 letter to FERC. “With no change in policy, the County will need to meet its future energy needs via PSE derived new thermal generation or out-of-county energy purchases. After taking a long, hard, practical and financial look at what it would take to obtain a license and build the project, the Principals have decided to discontinue their effort and stop the application process.”

The Black Canyon Hydroelectric Project was to be located on the North Fork Snoqualmie River, four miles northeast of North Bend in King County, Washington. The project as proposed was to have an installed generating capacity of 25 MW. The run-of-river project was to divert water from a 2.7-mile-section of the North Fork referred to as the “Bypassed Reach.”

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.