FERC adds extra two permit years for McKay Dam hydro project in Oregon

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 17 granted a Nov. 9 request from Houtama Hydropower LLC for a two-year extension of its existing preliminary permit for the proposed McKay Dam Hydroelectric Project.

That permit was issued on Feb. 6, 2014, and was to expire on Jan. 31, 2017. The proposed project would be located at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s existing McKay Dam on McKay Creek near Pendleton in Umatilla County, Oregon. The project would occupy approximately 5.6 acres of federal land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Section 5(b) of the Federal Power Act states that a preliminary permit term can be extended once for not more than two additional years if the commission finds that the permittee has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence. In its six progress reports, Houtama indicated that it had: assessed the feasibility of the project; conducted preliminary energy calculations using flow and head data; conducted site surveys; completed an interconnection feasibility study; conducted dissolved oxygen monitoring upstream and downstream of the dam; and consulted with local, state, and federal agencies and Indian tribes.

On May 31, 2016, Houtama filed a preliminary application document (PAD). On June 9, 2016, Houtama filed a notice of intent to prepare a license application and requested authorization to use the traditional licensing process. On July 22, 2016, commission staff approved the use of the traditional licensing process and on Sept. 8, 2016, Houtama held the required site visit and a joint agency and public meeting to discuss the project.

The Nov. 17 extension 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.

The McKay Dam is located approximately five miles south of Pendleton, Oregon, and impounds the McKay Reservoir. Houtama Hydropower’s proposed project includes a new bifurcation on the existing outlet pipe, a new penstock, and a new powerhouse complete with turbine, generator, transmission, and draft tube facilities.

The proposed penstock system will operate independently of the existing outlet works, and will deliver released flows to the turbine. Power produced by the generator will be routed up to an existing overhead power line at the dam. The existing neighborhood power line would be upgraded to a 12.5-kV, three-phase circuit for connection to the local grid at a point to be negotiated with Pacific Power. After powering the turbine, water will discharge into the existing still basin adjacent to the existing outlet works.

Initial analysis of hydrologic data and project capacity resulted in a recommended production capacity of 1.9 MW. Based on the average daily head, a single Francis-type turbine was selected.

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.