Laurie Husted, Chief Sustainability Officer, Bard College
Federal Regulation and Hydropower
Top down or bottom up – would the federal government take lead on approving a project at Bard or would it be left to the local and state entities to decide? When Bard College started considering installing small hydroelectric systems on the creek that divides our campus, there were many unanswered questions, from whether it was technically viable, economically feasible, ecologically appropriate and possible legally.
From a regulatory perspective, we wondered whether we would we be subject to the Federal licensing process; one that ran through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (联邦能源管理委员会), or were the proposed systems so small that the federal government would not play a part. Would more regulatory authority fall to the local municipality, in our case the Town of Red Hook and New York State?
Hydropower projects are typically licensed by 联邦能源管理委员会, but given the large number of regulated dams listed with the NYS 大坝安全 Office, would the feds be able to manage so many projects should the dam owners seek to do hydropower? We put in a Letter of Intent to 联邦能源管理委员会 on February 26, 2017 to see what they had to say. 读了 Letter of Intent to 联邦能源管理委员会 for the Annandale Micro Hydropower 项目.
Bard’s 联邦能源管理委员会 Proposal
Our 联邦能源管理委员会 proposal was for a run-of-river project, the “Annandale 项目” that would consist of: (1) the existing 8-foot-high Annandale Dam; (2) a 5.5-foot-high overflow spillway; (3) two* Gravitation Water Vortex (GV) Power Plants having a total installed capacity of 12 kilowatts rated at 9 feet of net head; (4) a transmission line connecting the generating units with Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation’s electric distribution system; and (5) appurtenant facilities. *the current design calls for 3 GVs
联邦能源管理委员会 would decide if our non-federal hydroelectric project needed to be licensed, something that would be true if any of these following four bullets applied:
- is located on a navigable water of the United States (we weren’t sure and would ask the Army Corps of Engineers, ACOE);
- occupies lands or reservations of the United States (it does not);
- utilizes surplus water or waterpower from a government dam (it does not); or
- is located on a stream over which Congress has Commerce Clause jurisdiction, is constructed or modified on or after August 26, 1935, and affects the interests of interstate or foreign commerce (since the number of electrons we could put onto the local utility’s grid (Central Hudson) would never leave Bard’s campus, we wondered if this would not apply).
6月5日, 2017 we received a response from 联邦能源管理委员会 that answered our questions: they did have jurisdiction over our project because the project would affect interstate commerce through its connection to the interstate grid (read the 联邦能源管理委员会 Order Ruling). They said we could consider applying for a small hydroelectric power project exemption of 10 megawatts (MW) or less.
We are doing more homework; mostly gathering information on how to apply for that exemption while continuing the ecological, technical and 大坝安全 reviews alongside stakeholder engagement. If we decide to move forward with a project at Annandale, the rest of the process could be completed in as quickly as 9 months or could take several years.
For more information, follow efforts through the 联邦能源管理委员会 exemption application and consultation process for the Annandale Microhydro 项目.