Monthly Archives: October 2013

Small hydroelectric dams bring clean power to utilities

By Jody Lawrence-Turner
Spokesman Review

Glenn Phillips is a water-power cowboy.

Faded, discolored pictures depict the Northport, Wash., man’s tale of building one of the first privately owned and operated miniature hydroelectric power plants.

They show him digging in a ravine. One shows him stringing cable for a tram that hauled materials. More chronicle how he built a power house at the bottom of a 140-foot waterfall.

Now 82 years old, Phillips displays each photo in hands weathered by hard work as his family harnessed nature.

“I knew there had to be an easier way to make a living than logging and raising cattle,” said Phillips, flashing a surly grin.

The Northwest is rich with water-generated electricity; big, wild rivers have been tamed by some of the world’s mightiest dams.

And yet the region is home to an impressive array of small projects, too. Some can fetch their owners $20,000 a month.

Washington, Idaho and Oregon are home to at least 95 of these miniature operations, according to the Foundation for Water and Energy Education, located in Spokane. There are hundreds more across the country. Together they form an industry worth tens of millions of dollars. Read more

Posted in Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on Small hydroelectric dams bring clean power to utilities

Report: Kootenai River changes impact sturgeon

By Rich Landers
Spokesman Review

FISHERIES — The eggs of endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon in Idaho and Montana are less likely to hatch in the river because of flow changes caused by Libby Dam and other human actions, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Associated Press reporter Nicholas K. Geranios says the report issued this week concluded that sturgeon eggs hatch best in places where rocks are washed clean of algae by river flow. Read more of the AP story.

Posted in Environment, Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Tagged | Comments Off on Report: Kootenai River changes impact sturgeon

Bonneville/Energy Trust study delves into hydropower’s long reach

By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon

Two energy advocates have released a case study that examines how hydropower can occur away from the natural river system.

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Energy Trust of Oregon issued the study, authored by Hood River firm Farmers Conservation Alliance, which examines the cumulative effects of small-scale hydropower generation by two irrigation districts on the Hood River watershed over the past 30 years.

The study found “a measured positive impact on fish” from projects in the Hood River watershed, thanks to “the generation of nearly $90 million in revenue that funded infrastructure improvements leading to increased summer stream flows, installation of fish screens, removal of passage barriers and increased collaboration within the watershed community.” Read more

Posted in Environment, Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on Bonneville/Energy Trust study delves into hydropower’s long reach

Congress passes two hydropower bills during a summer of gridlock

By Jordan Collins
Mintz Levin

The 113th Congress, which is on track to pass fewer bills than any recent Congress, did pass two hydropower bills that were signed by President Obama on August 9, 2013. The two bills, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (“HERA”) and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (“Reclamation Act”), will expand the federal government’s authority to develop hydropower on existing water resources and streamline the permitting process for new, small hydropower projects.

Although in the past four years Congress has extended tax credits for renewable projects, notably one for wind energy, this is the first significant piece of energy legislation since 2009. The bills do not make major changes to the hydropower permitting, licensing and development process, but rather take small steps to speed up the production of hydropower in the U.S.

Both HERA and the Reclamation Act Amendment passed the House and Senate with overwhelming majorities. Read more

Posted in Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on Congress passes two hydropower bills during a summer of gridlock