Friday, March 20, 2009

PGE considers small hydro projects

Portland General Electric is looking into installing turbines in streams, canals and rivers, to help fill its renewable portfolio. The utility was set to meet with Roger Bedard at the Electric Power Research Institute this morning to explore whether such small hydrokinetic projects, essentially underwater wind turbines, make economic sense, said John Esler, PGE's project manager for hydro licensing.

The decision comes amid the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's call for utilities to boost the nation's hydro production by 90,000 megawatts in the next 10 or 15 years through upgrades to existing dams and hydrokinetic development. A two-year extension of the production tax credit under the economic recovery act is also good motivation to develop hydrokinetic projects.

The problem is that hydrokinetic technology is about where wind energy was 20 years ago, said FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff in a speech to the Northwest Hydroelectric Association on Wednesday. "It'll be a matter of economics," he said.


Patrick said...

great idea. it would be nice to be able to boost hydro power while being less disruptive to the salmon.

Libby Tucker said...

Thanks, Patrick. You might be interested to know that FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff addressed that issue at the NW Hydro Association conference. FERC is looking for new turbine technologies that are more fish friendly.