FERC certifies production tax credits for three hydro projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation at three hydroelectric projects in four states for renewable energy production tax credits.

Three separate upgrades certified at 44.5-MW Rumford Falls

FERC certified or recertified incremental generation resulting from three separate upgrades at the 44.5-MW Rumford Falls hydroelectric project (No. 2333) in Maine. Licensee Rumford Falls Hydro LLC, an affiliate of Brookfield Renewable Power, applied for certification in filings in December 2010 and in March and April.

FERC previously certified incremental generation at the project in 2008 for upgrades to runners of both turbines at 15.2-MW Lower Station, one of two powerhouses at Rumford Falls. Lower Station began operating in 1954 on the Androscoggin River. The other powerhouse, 29.3-MW Upper Station, began service in 1903.

Rumford Falls requested and received recertification for the Lower Station runner upgrades. The licensee filed a revised operations model reflecting modified hydrology due to newly licensed upstream storage facilities, resulting in less regulated or flashier inflows to Rumford Falls. FERC recertified, as of June 30, 2008, a historical generation baseline of 270,957 MWh and incremental generation of 12,827 MWh, or a 4.73 percent increase, for a new baseline of 283,784 MWh.

The commission also certified for the first time incremental generation resulting from the upgrade of Upper Station Unit 3. FERC certified, as of Jan. 31, 2010, a historical generation baseline of 283,784 MWh and incremental generation of 6,711 MWh, or a 2.36 percent increase, for another new baseline of 290,494 MWh.

FERC also certified for the first time incremental generation resulting from the installation of an inflatable flashboard system at Upper Station. FERC certified, as of Sept. 30, 2010, a historical generation baseline of 290,494 MWh and incremental generation of 889 MWh, or a 0.3 percent increase, for another new baseline of 291,384 MWh.

FERC certifies/recertifies three upgrades at 721-MW Clark Fork

FERC certified or recertified for production tax credits the incremental generation resulting from three separate upgrades at the 721-MW Clark Fork project (No. 2058) on the Clark Fork River in Idaho and Montana.

FERC found discrepancies in different modeling programs for the project while reviewing a request by licensee Avista Utilities to certify incremental generation from runner replacement on Unit 3 at Clark Fork's 456-MW Noxon Rapids development in Montana.

FERC staff found discrepancies in the project's baseline generation from previously issued certifications for improvements due to replacement of Noxon Rapids Unit 1 and of Unit 4 of Clark Fork's 265-MW Cabinet Gorge development. For the previous certifications, Avista said it had used different modeling programs and varying periods of analysis.

FERC staff suggested using the same model and period of analysis to provide consistent results. After doing so, FERC recertified the previous certifications, then certified the latest request, for the Noxon Rapids Unit 3 upgrade.

FERC recertified for Cabinet Gorge Unit 4, as of March 31, 2007, a historical generation baseline of 2,707,189 MWh and incremental generation of 3,943 MWh, or a 0.15 percent increase, for a new baseline of 2,711,132 MWh.

FERC also recertified for Noxon Rapids Unit 1, as of May 21, 2009, a historical generation baseline of 2,711,132 MWh and incremental generation of 21,374 MWh, or a 0.79 percent increase, for a new baseline of 2,732,506 MWh.

The commission also certified for the first time incremental generation resulting from the upgrade of Noxon Rapids Unit 3. FERC certified, as of June 11, 2010, a historical generation baseline of 2,732,506 MWh and incremental generation of 17,958 MWh, or a 0.66 percent increase, for another new baseline of 2,750,464 MWh.

Runner upgrade wins certification of New York's 36-MW Stewarts Bridge

FERC approved a request by Erie Boulevard Hydropower L.P. to certify incremental generation resulting from a turbine runner upgrade at the 36-MW Stewarts Bridge hydroelectric project on the Sacandaga River in New York.

FERC certified Stewarts Bridge's annual historical baseline generation of 116,232 MWh and incremental generation of 12,220 MWh, or a 10.5 percent increase, for a new annual generation of 128,452 MWh.

Unit upgrade certification sought for 37.232-MW Gulf Island-Deer Rips

NextEra Energy Maine Operating Services LLC has applied to FERC for certification of incremental generation for an upgrade of Unit 3 at the 37.232-MW Gulf Island-Deer Rips project (No. 2283) on the Androscoggin River in Maine.

FERC previously certified upgrades of Units 1 and 2 at the project. Licensee FPL Energy Maine Hydro LLC replaced the units' runners and rewound the generators.

NextEra, an FPL Energy affiliate, now seeks certification for upgrade of Unit 3, which went into service in December 2010.

NextEra said the project has an annual historical generation baseline of 141,338 MWh and incremental generation of 2,797 MWh, a 1.98 percent increase, for new total annual generation of 144,135 MWh.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Internal Revenue Code to apply a production tax credit to incremental production gains from efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydropower facilities placed in service after Aug. 8, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2014. The Internal Revenue Service determines whether to grant the credits after FERC certifies hydropower production.

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