Championing micro-hydro development

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, March 31, 2011

By Peter Beland

The Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 629) was introduced last week by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The legislation could help the development of conduit hydropower throughout the state. Conduits, or canals and other man made structures that transport water for municipal, agricultural or industrial purposes but not for hydroelectric power production, are found throughout the state and represent an untapped power source to many.

Jed Jorgenson of the Oregon Energy Trust has been working for the past three years with water stakeholders connected with the networks of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to help micro-hydro power development. Though the energy trust can help qualified projects with initial costs, the number of projects that get off the ground is small in part because of high permitting fees. “A small project has to go through the same permitting as large project,” says Jorgenson. “The way it is now, it costs [at least] $20,000 to permit a 5-megawatt hydro project and $20,000 to permit a 5-kilowatt one.” The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission puts small-scale projects that could power ranches in the same category as larger projects.

If the legislation were enacted later this session, it would call for three regional stakeholder meetings throughout the country to discuss how to reduce permitting barriers and put conduit hydropower into its own category to exempt it from disproportionate regulation. Enterprise-based energy consulting firm Renewable Energy Solutions released a report last November stating that 19 conduits it studied in Wallowa County could produce one megawatt of energy, worth $244,000 annually.

Rural areas are not the only locations for conduit hydropower development. The water traveling through municipal pipes travels quickly and builds up pressure, energy that usually is released to make sure pipes don’t burst by pressure reduction valves. The City of Astoria is currently developing an urban conduit hydropower system to capture 37 kilowatts of energy through turbines in the city’s pipes. The energy produced would offset the annual electricity cost to run the city’s wastewater treatment center.

Astoria special projects consultant Mike Morgan is happy that project should be running by early fall, but laments that “We’re putting $25,000 [in FERC permitting fees] into a pre-existing pie. That seems excessive to me. Unless you’re sucking water out of a salmon stream, I think micro-hydro should be automatically exempt.”

Peter Beland is a contributing writer for Oregon Business.





 

Comments   

 
John DeVoe
0 #1 Executive DirectorJohn DeVoe 2012-05-01 17:25:07
The problem is that many projects are "sucking water out of salmon streams" and the vast majority of historic irrigation and other diversions that now want to add micro hydro never followed laws requiring fish passage or bypass flows when the diversions were constructed. Now these projects want to add new revenue streams to water use by adding hydro without addressing past failures to provide fish passage or bypass flows at the diversions. Oregon should make sure that the addition of hydro to non compliant diversions triggers compliance with fish passage and bypass flow requirements rather than once again ignore the needs of the fish - and the law.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 non-compliant diversions in OregonGuest 2013-07-26 18:15:52
Water rights holder-got water.

Please can you provide a list of the non-compliant diversions within Oregon. I'm not aware of any current diversions that have not been monitored by county Water Master,fish and wildlife and city water use authorities. I not found any diversions lacking fish screens or bypass flow channels. Got Water
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.


Read more...

Sun set

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night. 


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS