Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
June 2019

Vol. 24, No.25 Week of June 23, 2019

Igiugig hydrokinetic pilot gets FERC OK with 10-year license

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued the Igiugig Village Council a 10-year pilot project license for the Igiugig Hydrokinetic Project.

The council applied for the license for an in-river turbine power generation pilot project in November. FERC issued an environmental assessment for the project in February.

Ocean Renewable Power Co., which specializes in hydrokinetic power generation, has been assisting Igiugig and a hydrokinetic system was tested in the village in 2014 and 2015.

“I am so pleased this project will be able to move forward, reducing local diesel consumption and energy prices,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a June 5 statement. “Igiugig’s efforts are blazing a trail for marine renewable energy and microgrid solutions around the world - when we prove these technologies can work in rural Alaska, we are proving they can work just about anywhere else on the planet,” she said.

Igiugig Village Corp. is the first tribal entity in the United States to achieve this approval. Igiugig and Ocean Renewable Power Co., based in Maine, have been collaborating on the project since 2009, she said.

The first-of-its-kind RivGen Power System is scheduled to be installed this summer, once permits are approved by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Lake and Peninsula Borough.

Kvichak River

FERC said the 70-kilowatt hydrokinetic project will be installed on the Kvichak River near the outlet of Iliamna Lake and the village of Igiugig in southwest Alaska. The village is on the east bank of the river at the lake outlet, FERC said, and the project will be installed some 100 feet from the west bank “in a deep and high velocity area of the channel.”

The Igiugig Project consists of “an in-stream, 35-kW, approximately 52-foot-long, 12-foot-high, 47-foot-wide pontoon-mounted RivGen Power System Turbine Generator Unit” which will be installed in Phase I of the project. An additional 35-kW unit will be installed in Phase 2 of the project.

Each will have an anchoring system consisting of a 6,600-pound anchor, chain, shackles and 200 feet of mooring to keep the unit in place. The TGU will be connected to a junction box on an island east of the deployment site by a 375-foot-long, coated and weighted combined power, data and environmental monitoring underwater cable. Another 675-foot underwater cable will connect the TGU in Phase 2 to the same junction box, which will connect to a shore station on the east bank of the river via a 710-foot-long buried bundle of six power, data and environmental monitoring cables.

The pre-fabricated shore station, 10-foot by 8-foot, will house project electronics and controls, as well as other facilities required for interconnection to the local grid.

Two phases

Installation will be in two phases, FERC said, with one TGU and accompanying anchor and cabling equipment installed in each phase. “Anchors and moorings will be installed on the riverbed prior to deployment of the TGU device and remain in place throughout the duration of the project,” the agency said, with the TGU pushed into place with non-specialized watercraft and attached to the anchor lines.

“Following deployment of the TGU and attachment to the anchor lines, internal ballast tanks in the TGU pontoons will be flooded sequentially. As the tanks are filled, the TGU will settle to the river bottom where it will stay during operation.”

FERC said the installation process for each TGU will take two to four weeks, with Phase 2 installed after a full year of Phase 1 operation, in 2020, assuming Phase 1 is installed this year.

“The TGUs will be retrieved and inspected on an annual basis,” FERC said, “but this interval may be extended once it is determined that all critical systems are operating appropriately.”

FERC requires the licensee to begin Phase 1 construction within two years of issuance of the license and complete Phase 2 construction within five years from the license issuance.

Igiugig Village plans to use the project’s power to offset diesel generation.

FERC said Igiugig requested a 10-year license so it could have enough time to obtain operational data to develop a subsequent license application before the first license expires.

Fish monitoring

The Kvichak River “supports abundant populations of resident and anadromous fish, including runs of sockeye salmon that provide regionally important recreational, commercial, and subsistence fisheries,” FERC said. “The Kvichak River and other Bristol Bay river systems produce the greatest number of sockeye salmon in the world, with recent annual averages of about 38 million adults, 21 percent of which originated from the Kvichak River system.”

Igiugig Village has a fish monitoring plan which includes installation of underwater cameras as part of Phase 1 of the project. The plan requires that project personnel be on-site at all times while the turbine is deployed during the sockeye smolt peak migration. In a May 14 letter, Igiugig Village said “a fish biologist would be on-site during the peak migration period for sockeye salmon (May 21 to June 10, 2020) and would have real-time video monitoring capability” from the underwater cameras.

FERC said the environmental assessment for the project found that negative interactions between outmigrating smolts and the TGUs are unlikely because previous video monitoring of project operation found no negative interactions; most smolt would be able to swim over or around the TGUs and “if smolts were to swim through the devices, the likelihood of injury or mortality due to blade strike is low.”

Igiugig Village will be able to monitor interactions in real time and could shut down the project within an hour of observing harm to smolts. Corrective actions could be developed in consultation with resource agencies, such as timing restrictions to protect smolts, FERC said.


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