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Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2006, 05:51:57
by Tanada
There are at least three major 1950's hydroelectric dam projects on a large scale in the USA which were stalled and went quiet under environmental pressure. The three I am referring to are Rampart Canyon Alaska, Marble Canyon Arizona and the Lower Canyon Arizona projects. Rampart canyon would flood an area in AK the size of Lake Eire now designated the yukon Flats Federal Wildlife Preserve or some similer name, the Marble Canyon project would creat a resevoir lake between Glenn Canyon Dam and the Lake Mead, and the third would flood the lower 13 miles of the Grand Canyon itself creating a 90 mile long resevoir lake.

On the economic side the Marble and Lower Canyon dam's would increase electricity production from existing water supplies by 100%, doubling the power from the Colorado River. The argument goes that the river is already impounded so no new ecological effects would be incited. In Alaska it would allow Anchorage to shut down their coal power plants and switch to renewable power. Of course the Yukon Flats are a wild waterfowl breeding ground for much of NA, but don't let that bother you!


My prediction, at least one of these three projects will come back to life and be built as we slide down the PO slope, possibly all three. These are only the three major projects I know about, I am sure others will be resurrected in other places as well. :(

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2006, 10:07:40
by FoxV
Tanada wrote:In Alaska it would allow Anchorage to shut down their coal power plants and switch to renewable power.

Not if the coal miners have anything to do with it.

They funded the Indians in to making a mess out of the various James Bay projects in the 70s and 80s

Only recently has quebec been able to move forward to complete the projects (an additional 8gW) when they agreed to pay the Indians compensation for the inundated land (I believe $5M over ten years which I thought was a bit of a sell out).

In anycase fossil fuel companies have powerful friends so don't expect them to go quietly into that good night

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2006, 14:50:57
by Loki
Here in the Columbia River Basin there was one major project (the Ben Franklin Dam) that was shelved, not because of environmentalists but because it would have flooded portions of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. I don't think it was a mega-project, certainly not on the scale of Grand Coulee, but it was a large dam. That dam site is still available should all environmental concerns be tossed by the wayside. I'm not aware of any other sites suitable for large dams in the CRB.

There were plans to build a mega-project in Hells Canyon (the Nez Perce Dam), but instead three smaller dams were built. Same with The Dalles Dam---one of the original plans envisioned a high storage dam that would have supposedly created a reservoir the size of Puget Sound---instead they built a few run-of-the-river projects. Probably not outside the realm of possibility that the smaller projects could be dismantled and larger dams put in their place. But unlikely---I don't think the Chinese will loan us that much money.

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2006, 14:53:00
by Loki
I forgot to mention the Fraser River Basin. Now that is a potentially highly productive hydro area that is largely untapped. They didn't build large dams on the mainstem (they did build some on the tribs) because the CRB and Peace River Basin were already being developed and because of fishery concerns. But if we did see a new spate of dam building, the Fraser would be prime pickings.

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2006, 15:06:20
by TorrKing
Don't worry, dams can be blown up and landscapes heal.

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Thu 07 Dec 2006, 15:30:14
by Tanada
Loki wrote:I forgot to mention the Fraser River Basin. Now that is a potentially highly productive hydro area that is largely untapped. They didn't build large dams on the mainstem (they did build some on the tribs) because the CRB and Peace River Basin were already being developed and because of fishery concerns. But if we did see a new spate of dam building, the Fraser would be prime pickings.


That's exactly the kind of thing I am talking about, a new series of Dam projects in the USA as environmental laws are tossed away for pollitical/economic expediency as we go down the PO curve.

Without peer in terms of ROI Hydro-electric has series repercussion, but everyone seems to assume becuase these projects were cancelled once upon a time they can not be rekindled.

People though WW I was the war to end all wars too!

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Thu 07 Dec 2006, 17:32:16
by Loki
The Fraser is actually in British Columbia, not the US. But their environmental laws are even laxer than ours, plus they're going balls out to try to overpopulate the province (I think half of Hong Kong now lives in the Vancouver metro area), so it's likely they'll end up developing the Fraser. The one thing that might slightly inhibit them is the lack of a federal development agency like the Corps of Engineers or Bureau of Reclamation, plus I think BC Hydro is prohibited from building any more projects. So they may have to rely on private companies to build the dams.

Voith Hydro could profit from new hydropower law

Unread postPosted: Mon 12 Aug 2013, 20:49:52
by Graeme
Voith Hydro could profit from new hydropower law

A bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama could mean more work for West Manchester Township-based Voith Hydro - a manufacturer that has focused its lobbying efforts on easing cumbersome regulatory approval for hydroelectric generation.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act will improve the permitting process for small and conduit hydropower projects at bureau facilities.

The law will require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to examine a two-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed loop pump storage.
Kevin Frank, president and chief executive officer of Voith Hydro, said he has seen licensing approval processes for these facilities take as long as five to eight years.

"We don't want to short circuit any of the environmental studies," he said. "We just think developers are able to get it done in that time." Though the bill itself doesn't force the two-year process, Fern's consideration of a two-year process is a step in the right direction, Frank said. "If they do it," he said, "we will put a whole bunch of people to work."

The law is expected to increase the power criteria for small hydro projects from five megawatts to 10 megawatts.
Hydro projects classified as small, Frank said, don't require all the licensing steps of large facilities.

About 80,000 dams in the United States are available - yet not being used - for hydroelectric power generation. Many of those, Frank said, can be used for small hydro.


The law The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act was signed by President Barack Obama Friday.
It will:

-Increase the power criteria for "small hydro" from five megawatts to 10. Small hydro requires less regulatory approvals, said Kevin Frank, president and CEO of Voith Hydro.

-Remove "conduit," or pipe-bound projects under five megawatts - such as one a farmer might install in his irrigation system - from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdiction.

-Provide FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits for hydropower projects. Currently, if a preliminary permit expires, the developer "has to start from scratch," Frank said. "This allows them to keep a project moving that has potential."

-Require FERC to examine a 2-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed loop pump storage. In the past, those processes can take between five to eight years, Frank said.


ydr

prnewswire

Re: Voith Hydro could profit from new hydropower law

Unread postPosted: Tue 13 Aug 2013, 12:17:35
by rollin
Over 50,000 projects to tap a total of less than 4GW. Sounds crazy. Most of the dams are below 1 MW and are probably fed by very intermittent streams.

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Fri 18 Oct 2013, 06:58:04
by Tanada
I think this counts as a Dam Bribe!

The two senators in charge of the panel that allocates money for water projects said last night that contracts would have been canceled and $160 million would have been wasted unless Congress moved quickly to renew the project’s authorization. Battles over the budget and President Barack Obama’s health-care law had sidetracked action on routine bills, including one that would have reauthorized this project.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said in an e-mail the White House supports the project and that it was Senate appropriators who requested the project be included in the stopgap spending bill.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-1 ... -deal.html

Re: Maximized hydroelectric USA

Unread postPosted: Tue 14 May 2019, 10:50:36
by Tanada
New dam proposal in Sierra Nevada stirs debate over California energy policy

Up a remote canyon in the towering eastern Sierra, a Southern California company has an ambitious plan to dam the area’s cold, rushing waters and build one of the state’s first big hydroelectric facilities in decades.

The project, southeast of Yosemite near the town of Bishop (Inyo County), faces long regulatory odds as well as daunting costs. But residents of the Owens Valley downstream and state environmentalists are not taking it lightly.

The complex, as proposed in an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month, is scheduled for mostly federal land at the edge of the Inyo National Forest, partly in the popular John Muir Wilderness. It threatens to disrupt a landscape known for its brown trout and bighorn sheep, unparalleled alpine vistas, and pristine rivers and lakes.

Yet, the plan comes at a time when California is eager for clean, climate friendly energy, and renewed interest is emerging in hydroelectric plants. Such facilities are not always considered green; however, they offer a unique way of storing wind and solar power, which are cleaner but provide only sporadic contributions to the electrical grid.

The proposed “pumped-storage” project would essentially bank solar and wind energy by pumping creek water uphill when the power sources are plentiful, say during sunny or windy times, and conversely, send the water back down through power-producing turbines when the energy is needed.

“It’s a great way to manage the intermittency of renewable energy,” said Frank Wolak, an economics professor at Stanford University and director of the school’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, who called pumped storage “ideal” for helping the state scale up its clean power. “But the problem in California is siting the projects.”

Several federal and state agencies will have a say in whether a new, large hydroelectric undertaking is appropriate for California. Most regulators have only begun reviewing the proposal, though officials at the Inyo National Forest recently expressed concerns about disturbances to mountains, rivers and wildlife in a letter to the applicant.

The application for the facility was filed by Premium Energy Holdings LLC of Walnut (Los Angeles County). The company, which appears to be a consultant in the power sector, did not return multiple calls from The Chronicle.

FERC officials confirmed they’re considering the company’s request for a preliminary permit, which would simply grant Premium Energy an exclusive right to study the project. Before any construction could begin, the company would have to take the additional step of getting a license from FERC, a process that involves more review and more input.

California regulators have been wary of new hydroelectric facilities because of their sprawling environmental footprint, even when they can assist in meeting renewable energy goals. But some fear that the Trump administration could try to limit the state’s voice on the matter as part of a continuing effort to make public lands more accessible to industry.

“We are entering perilous times,” said Ron Stork, senior policy advocate for the environmental group Friends of the River and a longtime dam expert. “California has been shut out of any meaningful participation in FERC licensing. We are potentially entering an era where there’s no one but FERC or the licensee making the decisions.”

The proposed Owens Valley Pumped Storage Project, according to the FERC filing, would bring an elaborate series of dams, pumps and pipes to Lower Rock Creek Gorge, a rugged canyon of sagebrush and pine that’s commonly used by hikers and mountain bikers.

The process of storing and generating power would begin with three concrete dams, some more than 300 feet tall, that would capture water from Lower Rock Creek. The water in these reservoirs would then be pumped through pipelines thousands of feet uphill to three other reservoirs, built along 11,000-foot Wheeler Ridge in the John Muir Wilderness.

There, water would be held until electricity is needed, at which time the water would be released back downhill to three power-generating stations near the dams. The water could be recycled through the system as warranted, in what Premium Energy describes as a “closed-loop” hydroelectric operation.

As an alternative, the company proposes damming nearby Owens Valley River Gorge and similarly pumping water to reservoirs on Wheeler Ridge.

Either configuration would have an energy capacity of 5,200 megawatts, according to the FERC filing, a staggering amount of power that could meet the needs of a couple of million homes. The project would be California’s largest such operation.

Eight pumped storage sites currently operate in California, with a total capacity of 4,500 megawatts, according to the California Energy Commission. Wolak, at Stanford, said there’s a demand for plenty more facilities, given both the existing storage needs of wind and solar power and the future needs of the growing renewable sector.

California last year set an aggressive goal of getting 100 percent of its power from zero-emissions sources by 2045. While state law limits how much hydropower counts as clean energy, the storage potential of the plants alone is driving their resurgence.

“People see the need for what they provide, and developers are trying to get their licenses and work the deals,” said Jeff Leahey, head of governmental affairs for the National Hydropower Association. “In the past five to seven years, we really started to notice the increase in project proposals, particularly in the West.”

Preliminary permits for about a half dozen pumped-storage projects in California are being sought or were recently granted, FERC records show.

What makes the Owens Valley project different from several of the others — and more controversial — is that it proposes construction of new infrastructure instead of using existing hardware. Many pumped-storage operations piggyback on drinking-water reservoirs, like Lake Oroville, where water released from the reservoir is sometimes pumped back into the reservoir for power generation.

A proposal near Joshua Tree National Park would use old mining pits to hold water for generating electricity. Two other proposals, one at the San Vicente Dam near San Diego and one at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, would add a single reservoir near an existing one to move water in between to produce power.

The Owens Valley project would build a total of six new reservoirs, a major ask that faces significant federal, state and local constraints. For starters, most development is banned in federally designated wilderness. Plus, residents and environmental groups are already raising concerns about a hydroelectric project chasing off threatened bighorn sheep and migrating deer, degrading water quality in the area’s many streams and simply shattering the natural beauty.

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t support clean energy,” said Mono County resident Evan Russell, who has hiked the area along Lower Rock Creek hundreds of times. But “this would absolutely destroy the canyon.”

Most in the region remain flabbergasted about how something so big could be proposed for the sparsely developed eastern Sierra.

“Of course it was a surprise to people,” said Fran Hunt, a local organizer for the Sierra Club. “It’s really lit up the phone lines and people’s emails.”

Energy experts, who note that such an endeavor would likely cost billions of dollars, say the applicant may be pitching the project now as a longshot bet that it will become viable in the future. Others suggest that the applicant could be working with a larger company or utility that has the means and interest in moving a project forward quickly.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has infrastructure in the area, is listed on the application as a possible recipient of the new energy. The utility has had a long and strained relationship with the residents of the Owens Valley over efforts to cull water and power from the region, dramatized in the 1974 movie “Chinatown.”

The utility did not return multiple calls from The Chronicle for comment.

Steve Evans, who tracks hydroelectric projects as program director of the California Wilderness Coalition, said he normally would dismiss the Owens Valley proposal as completely unrealistic. But with the Trump administration working to upend many of the nation’s environmental protocols, on top of state pressure to ramp up clean power, Evans said now anything seems possible.

“I’m sure Trump would love to stick it to California’s renewable energy program by approving a reservoir in a wilderness area,” he said. “All this is just really troubling.”


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