Albany Engineering works on stalled 23.7-MW Thomson hydroelectric project

Thomson hydro project

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on HydroWorld.com sister site GenerationHub.com.

Albany Engineering Corp. (AEC) told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which in December 2013 approved a preliminary permit for a hydroelectric project in New York, that the project is still up in the air due to environmental issues.

The company on June 7 filed with FERC a progress report for the Thomson Hydroelectric Project, a proposed hydroelectric development on the Hudson River, adjacent to Lock C5 of the Champlain Canal, in the towns of Northumberland in Saratoga County and Greenwich in Washington County. The fully developed project will have a maximum operating capacity of 23,700 kW and be capable of generating approximately 68,971,000 kWh of renewable power on an average annual basis.

The New York State Canal Corp. (NYSCC) owns lock C5. AEC was previously issued a preliminary permit for the Thomson Hydroelectric Project in March 2007 for a term of 36 months, which expired in February 2010. in September 2006, AEC submitted a Notification of Intent to file an application for an original license and a Pre-Application Document for the Thomson Hydroelectric Project. AEC continued to perform under the requirements of the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP), which culminated in the filing of the Preliminary Licensing Proposal in August 2013.

The Thomson Hydroelectric Project is located within the Hudson River PCB Superfund Site. The PCB remediation activities conducted by General Electric (GE), with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), necessarily affected the progress of project development and were entirely beyond AEC’s control. In April 2013, the commission notified AEC that the ILP for the Thomson Hydroelectric Project would be held in abeyance pending completion of PCB remediation activities within the project area.

In October 2015, GE announced it had completed dredging in New York’s Upper Hudson River, although environmental cleanup work on and along the Hudson River will continue including restoration of underwater vegetation to areas of the river that were dredged and monitoring environmental conditions in the river for the foreseeable future. In November 2015, USEPA approved GE’s multi-step process to dismantle and decontaminate the 110-acre PCB sediment processing facility that was built to support the dredging of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site, which will continue during 2016.

AEC said it is also aware of other remediation issues that have been raised by interested environmental parties and NYSCC. The matter of additional remediation to be conducted specifically within the Champlain Canal, including Lock C5, is currently in litigation. AEC is attempting to determine the status of this litigation, the outcome of which may directly affect remediation of areas adjacent to the Thomson project area.

AEC commenced activities in accordance with pre-filing consultation requirements and has obtained all available data pertinent to the completion of a license application. At this time, AEC anticipates consultation with commission staff to discuss the efficacy of reactivating the ILP for the Thomson Hydroelectric Project prior to the termination of the current preliminary permit on Nov. 30, 2016.

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