FERC rejects extensions for permits on five hydropower projects in Kentucky

FERC rejects permits

Editor's Note: This content was originally featured on GenerationHub.com. GenerationHub.com is a sister site of HydroWorld.com that covers power generation in a number of renewable and non-renewable forms.

Saying the developer had not done enough to push these projects forward, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Aug. 4 rejected a June 30 application from Rye Development for two-year extensions of its preliminary permits for several hydro projects in Kentucky.

Rye Development was nearing the end (July 31 of this year in all cases) of three-year preliminary permits on reach of the projects, and had requested two more years of exclusivity for feasibility work on them.

The projects are:

  • Kentucky River Lock and Dam #4 Water Power Project No. 14486;
  • Kentucky River Lock and Dam #3 Water Power Project No. 14487;
  • Kentucky River Lock and Dam #2 Water Power Project No. 14488;
  • Green River Lock and Dam #2 Water Power Project No. 14489; and
  • Green River Lock and Dam #1 Water Power Project No. 14490.

Each of the Kentucky River projects would be located at a lock and dam owned and operated by the Kentucky River Authority in Franklin County, Kentucky. Each of the Green River projects would be located at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ lock and dam. The Green River #2 Project would be located on the Green River in McLean County, Kentucky, and the Green River #1 Project would be located on the Green River in Henderson County, Kentucky.

Each of the five proposed projects would utilize an existing lock and dam and consist of an intake channel, a powerhouse containing two generating units, a tailrace with a retaining wall, a substation; and a transmission line. 

Said the Aug. 5 FERC decision: "During the 35 months Rye has held these preliminary permits, it has not initiated the prefiling consultation process or demonstrated a pattern of progress toward the development of a license application such as documentation of consultation meetings on the need for environmental studies or documentation of progress toward the completion of any needed environmental studies. Instead, although the corresponding progress reports that Rye filed under its preliminary permits were timely, they are identical, only mentioning an ongoing feasibility evaluation and review for each project. The final report for each project concludes with the declaration that 'in the subsequent six-month period Rye plans to make a determination as to whether or not the project is economically viable at the time'. While this information is important in establishing the economic viability of the project, it is expected that the permittee will gather this information early in the permit term so that there will be sufficient time, if the project is determined to be feasible, to engage in agency consultation, conduct necessary studies, prepare an NOI and PAD, and proceed toward developing a license application.

"The essence of the Commission’s policy against site banking is that an entity that is unwilling or unable to develop a site should not be permitted to maintain the exclusive right to develop it. Because Rye has failed to demonstrate that it carried out the required activities under its permit with reasonable diligence, an extension of the term of its preliminary permit is not warranted and would contribute to site banking."

The deadline for a request for rehearing is 30 days from this Aug. 5 order.

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