FERC certifies production tax credits for hydro in Vermont, Connecticut, Maine

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation at four hydroelectric projects in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine for renewable energy production tax credits.

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.

In January, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which averted the so-called "fiscal cliff," extended PTCs for an additional year. It also made eligible those projects that begin construction by Jan. 1, 2014, rather than being placed in service by that date, enabling many more projects to qualify. The Internal Revenue Service determines whether to grant the credits after FERC certifies hydropower production.

Certification granted to 525-kW Bethel Mills in Vermont

FERC certified incremental generation Jan. 10 for the 525-kW Bethels Mills project (No. 9826) on the White River in Windsor County, Vt.

Project operator Bethel Mills Electric LLC cited replacement of the Unit 1 turbine runner and replacement of wooden flashboards with an inflatable system. FERC found the project had an annual historical generation baseline of 1,328 MWh and total incremental generation of 182 MWh, a 13.76 percent increase, to a new total annual generation of 1,511 MWh.

FERC certifies increase at 575-kW Putnam in Connecticut

The commission also granted a request by Essex Energy Partnership LLC for certification of incremental generation at the 575-kW Putnam project (No. 5645) on the Quinebaug River in northeastern Connecticut.

Essex cited the complete rebuilding of the Unit 2 generator. FERC found the project had annual historical baseline generation of 2,552 MWh and new annual generation of 2,822 MWh, an increase of 270 MWh or 10.6 percent.

Great Lakes Hydro wins certification 70.809-MW Penobscot Mills

FERC also granted certification to Great Lakes Hydro America LLC for incremental generation from additional turbine runner upgrades at the 36.1-MW Millinocket development, part of the 70.809-MW Penobscot Mills project (No. 2458) in Maine.

Citing upgrades of Units 2 and 3 at Millinocket, FERC found Millinocket had a historical generation baseline of 216,385 MWh and incremental generation totaling 5,303 MWh, a 2.45 percent increase, for a new total annual generation of 221,688 MWh.

In 2008, FERC certified incremental generation from turbine runner upgrades to four units at Millinocket and two at another development, East Millinocket.

Certification granted to Messalonskee developments

The commission also granted certification to Messalonskee Stream Hydro LLC for incremental generation at another Maine project, 6.3-MW Messalonskee (No. 2556) on Messalonskee Stream.

Messalonskee, an affiliate of Essex Hydro Associates LLC, won certification for efficiency improvements from installation of pond level control and automatic generator synchronization and upgrading of generator excitation at the project's 2.9-MW Oakland and 1.6-MW Rice Rips developments. FERC found Messalonskee had annual historical baseline generation of 21,061 MWh and new annual generation of 21,371 MWh, an increase of 309.8 MWh or 1.47 percent.

In 2011, FERC rejected a request by Messalonskee Stream Hydro to certify incremental generation of 100 percent for the 1.8-MW Union Gas hydro development, another part of the Messalonskee project. Messalonskee had reconstructed Union Gas, inoperable since 2001, and resumed generation in 2007, arguing its historic baseline generation should be zero. FERC disagreed, saying reconstruction of the dam and restoration of generation was maintenance rather than upgrade or improvement in generation efficiency that would entitle it to production tax credits.

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