Saw Kill Project: Permitting – Step 3; Final Application and Revision

Jan Borchert, Current Hydro

Submitting a final application for exemption from Licensing with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is a complex endeavor, where details can decide if FERC accepts the application, or not. Here is an update on the Annandale process, our final application and a project revision.

Those of you following the Annandale FERC eLibrary docket P-15021, might have seen that we have submitted an exemption application with FERC for the Annandale Project in December of 2019. With it we prepared documents for the State and local permitting process, required by FERC, to the Department of State (NYSDOS), Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

FERC responded to our application in April 2020, requesting corrections, clarifications and additional information (see docket). Although every applicant hopes their application gets accepted right away, such a response from FERC is common, due to the complexity of the application process.

We’ve addressed FERC’s requests in our submissions from early July 2020. But as announced in the intro to this post, we also included a slight project revision in our submission. As micro-hydropower is a relatively young field, there are constantly new designs, new vendors and new ideas emerging and we want to make sure our demonstration project utilizes the best of what is out there. The revision allows us to reduce the facility’s footprint, complexity, equipment and maintenance needs while using proven Gravitational Vortex (GV) technology to generate energy with the same amount of flow as originally designed. Specifically, we are changing the design from three 4kW Gravitational Vortex units (12 kW total) to one 10kW GV unit, without significantly changing the environmental assessment as presented in the original application. So where the original application showed three GVs, the revised application only shows one.

Revised Site Rendering, Annandale Project

Revising an application at this stage of the process includes re-submitting all sections that are affected by those revisions. Although the proposed installation procedure and environmental assessment didn’t change due to the revision, most of the application’s sections needed to be revised and re-submitted, mostly changing “GVs” to “GV” and “three” to “one”. Those seem like negligible changes, but they do create inconsistencies within the application that FERC would otherwise criticize by requesting further corrections, clarifications and additional information.

A notice of the revised application, as well as our response to FERC’s requests has been sent to the stakeholders on our application distribution list, consisting of Federal, State and Local agencies as well as NGOs and other involved stakeholders.

We also revised and re-submitted our applications to the NYSDOS, NYSDEC and USACE, and even heard back from the Department of State:

“The Department of State has determined the proposed modification, would not result in coastal zone effects that would be substantially different than those originally reviewed. Therefore, the Department has no objection to the proposed modification.”

Letter from the NYSDOS, dated July 6, 2020.

Now we’re back to waiting to hear from FERC, hoping they will accept our application without further requests. We will keep you updated.