FERC takes input on new turbines at Portland General hydro project

FERC Seal

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on HydroWorld.com sister site GenerationHub.com. For more Federal Energy Regulatory Commission news and updates, visit the HydroWorld.com Premium Content section.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects on March 20 put out for comment an environmental assessment on a Portland General Electric project at the 136.6-MW Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project (No. 2195).

The new minimum flow turbines covered under this application would increase the capacity of the project by 3.89 MW. The project is located on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River and the mainstem of the Clackamas River in Clackamas County, Oregon.

In the pending application the utility proposes to construct, operate and maintain: a powerhouse at the base of Timothy Lake Dam housing two 0.95-MW turbines; a powerhouse at Crack-in-the-Ground located downstream of Lake Harriet housing a 1-MW turbine; a powerhouse housing a 135-kW turbine utilizing return flows from the juvenile downstream migrant collection systems and the North Fork fishway adult fish trap; and a turbine and an 850-kW turbine and induction generator utilizing North Fork fishway attraction flows.

The EA contains commission staff’s analysis of the probable environmental impacts of the proposed action and concludes that approval of the proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

FERC issued a new license for the project in December 2010. Several mandatory license conditions provided by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Forest Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service require the licensee to increase flow releases, initiate new minimum flows, and construct new flow facilities for the benefit of fish passage. Because these flows are substantial enough to support the installation of cost effective turbine-generator units, the licensee filed an application in April 2013 to add generation facilities at three of the four developments.

“In its Sixth Power Plan Mid-Term Assessment Report, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Council) forecasts the load in the Pacific northwest region to rise at an average rate of approximately 130 average MW per year between now and 2030 (NWPCC, 2013),” said FERC about the need for this project. “The report also predicts the loss of load probability to reach the Council’s limit in 2017, indicating that power generation resources may be unable to meet regional demand. This is the first time the council has identified an impending shortfall; however, the deficit would need to be reduced by only 350 MW to bring the probability with the Council’s standards.”

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