FERC seeks input on new licenses for two West Virginia hydroelectric facilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 9 released a draft environmental assessment for 30 days of public comment on a December 2015 application from Hawks Nest Hydro LLC for new licenses to continue operating the existing Hawks Nest Hydroelectric Project and Glen Ferris Hydroelectric Project.

The 102-MW Hawks Nest Project is located on the New River and the 6.159-MW Glen Ferris Project is located downstream of the Hawks Nest Project on the Kanawha River, with both projects located in Fayette County, West Virginia. Currently, both the Hawks Nest and Glen Ferris developments are licensed as a single project under a license issued in December 1987 that expires on Dec. 31, 2017. Hawks Nest Hydro is seeking separate new licenses for each project.

  • The Hawks Nest Project includes a 948-foot-long concrete-gravity dam located on the New River. Water from a reservoir is conveyed to the powerhouse through a 16,240-foot-long tunnel that extends from an intake near the dam on the right abutment (looking downstream) to a powerhouse downstream on the New River, thus creating an approximately 5.5-mile-long bypassed reach. Four of the five penstocks are connected to four identical turbines in the powerhouse, while the fifth penstock is closed with a steel and concrete bulkhead. The 210-foot-long and 74.5-foot-wide powerhouse located on the right bank (looking downstream) of the New River contains four identical turbine-generator units, each with a rated capacity of approximately 25.5 MW. The Hawks Nest Project is operated in a run-of-river mode.
  • The Glen Ferris Project includes a concrete dam with varying height of 3 feet to 12 feet above the riverbed, and no spillway gates.  Of the two powerhouses, the east powerhouse is approximately 54 feet long by 38 feet wide, and contains two identical turbine-generator units, each with a rated capacity of 1.947 MW. The 64.5-foot-long by 63-foot-wide west powerhouse is located between the east powerhouse and the river bank. The west powerhouse contains six identical turbine-generator units, each with a rated capacity of 0.377 MW. The Glen Ferris Project is operated in a run-of-river mode.

In its license application, Hawks Nest Hydro proposes various environmental measures, including:

  • Continue to operate the projects in a run-of-river mode, with inflow to the projects approximating outflow.
  • Maintain the existing ramping rate for discharges into the Hawks Nest bypassed reach between March 1 and October 31.
  • Provide additional seasonal minimum flows of 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) (July-February), 200 cfs (March-April), and 150 cfs (May-June), if available, into the Hawks Nest bypassed reach after releasing the 100-cfs minimum flow into the bypassed reach and passing 1,600 cfs to the powerhouse for generation.
  • Develop a streamflow monitoring plan for any new minimum flow targets that may be required for the Hawks Nest bypassed reach.

The Hawks Nest and Glen Ferris projects generate an average of 544,253 megawatt-hours (MWh) and 41,482 MWh of energy annually, respectively. Hawks Nest Hydro proposes no new capacity and no new construction at either 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.