Licensing and Relicensing of FERC Hydropower Projects
Feather River Project Relicensing – Department of Water Resources –
• Oroville Facilities Operating Summary and Streamflow and Lake Level Data – During the Feather River Project Relicensing, Mr. Kessler co-authored the Oroville Facilities Operating Summary which supported the relicensing team and resource agencies with describing project water management goals and limitations for purposes of identifying potential resource affects and investigating alternative resource actions for protection, mitigation or enhancement. The Operating Summary described streamflow in the Feather River as altered by regulation at the Lake Oroville impoundment and by diversions for hydropower which leads to understanding how changes in streamflow can modify the distribution and availability of habitat, and can have adverse or positive effects on resources. In addition to streamflow, information describing the stage of Lake Oroville was used to help identify and quantify potential resource affects influenced by lake level elevations and fluctuations.
• Preliminary Economic Analyses to Support SP-E3 Study of Potential Generation Alternatives – Oroville Facilities – The overall goal of the SP-E3 Study was to provide information on the issue of cost-efficient development of hydropower improvements or additions that could be made in the future to the Oroville Facilities, in support of FERC relicensing. Study Plan E-3 explored the overall power potential of the Oroville Facilities in light of current technology, regulatory requirements, water delivery requirements, and expected future power market conditions. Mr. Kessler supported the preliminary evaluations of the economic viability of five of the generation alternatives that were studied under SP-E3 that were presented for internal discussion within DWR. The generation alternatives studied included Oroville-Thermalito Phase II which considered adding a new Oroville II Power Plant with six additional pump/turbine generating units for an increase in capacity of 870 MW and five additional pump/turbine generating units to the Thermalito Power Plant for an increase in capacity of 137.5 MW. Other alternatives studied consisted of small hydro at various outlets.
• El Dorado Hydroelectric Project Relicensing, License Implementation and License Compliance – El Dorado Irrigation District – Mr. Kessler co-managed the pre-filing phase of the FERC relicensing for EID up to and including the filing of the license application with FERC. This included managing the technical team and the preparation of documents, resource agency consultations, conducting public outreach and stakeholder meetings, and briefing/obtaining approvals of District management and the Board for various phases of the project. Mr. Kessler has also supported the District with various license implementation tasks and serves the District in an ongoing capacity to comply with license compliance requirements particularly with respect to dam safety and project security.
• El Dorado Hydroelectric Project FERC License Amendment for Capital Improvements – Mr. Kessler supported EID with regulatory permitting including securing a FERC License Amendment for its El Dorado Hydroelecric Project. Project repairs at a cost of over $30 Million were completed to repair flood damages to El Dorado Diversion Dam, construct a new 2-mile long tunnel, and rehabilitate two generating units and associated equipment.
• Utica and Angels Hydroelectric Projects Relicensing, License Implementation and License Compliance – Utica Power Authority (UPA) – Mr. Kessler supported UPA by guiding the final stages under NEPA and CEQA of FERC Relicensing and preparing and/or coordinating all 28 resource management plans to meet conditions of the Angels and Utica Project FERC licenses, USFS 4(e) Conditions and the Water Quality Certification. Mr. Kessler also serves as UPA’s Chief Dam Safety Engineer and advises on various regulatory matters, including securing all regulatory permits and approvals for restoration of Flume 14 that was destroyed in a wildfire during September 2001; He has worked closely with Stanislaus National Forest regarding land stabilization and cultural resource issues, and has continued promoting positive working relationships based on established relationships from working with the Forest previously on relicensing and O&M issues. Mr. Kessler also prepared a comprehensive regulatory compliance schedule to assure conformity over the term of the FERC licenses with applicable conditions and agreements.
• North Fork Stanislaus River Hydroelectric Project – Northern California Power Agency and Calaveras County Water District – Mr. Kessler managed planning of various enhancements and aquatic resource studies, including small hydro and fish screen improvements, associated with the North Fork Stanislaus River Hydroelectric Project and relicensing studies associated with the Angels and Utica Projects; He also coordinated initial development phases of new biomass generation for the Gridley Rice Straw Project in conjunction with D.O.E., private and U.C. Davis research groups which led to receiving a $1 Million federal grant for prototype development testing in the production of ethanol.
• Reynolds Creek Hydroelectric Project, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska – Haida Native Americans – Mr. Kessler served as co-author and preparer of a feasibility study and report for development of the Reynolds Creek Hydroelectric Project on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska; He also developed regulatory permitting and interconnection negotiating strategies in preparation for project construction as a consultant to the Haida Native Americans.
• PG&E Relicensing and Capital Improvement Projects – Mr. Kessler supported numerous hydroelectric project relicensings representing PG&E’s Hydro Operations Department and managed various capital projects within PG&E’s and its water district/agency partner’s hydroelectric systems; Coordinated the establishment of computerized operations modeling for PG&E’s hydroelectric system for the purpose of predicting hydropower production based on runoff forecasting and in order to determine the most economical mix of hydro and thermal resources. Also served as a Hydrographer and developed expertise in surface water measurement techniques in accordance with USGS standards.
• EIR for PG&E’s Application for Authorization to Divest its Hydroelectric Generating Facilities and Related Assets – Served as Hazards Section Leader and Team Member of the Public Services and Utilities Section in preparing the EIR for considering PG&E’s divestiture of its entire hydroelectric system; The environmental assessment prepared for the California Public Utilities Commission included evaluating the safety and potential risks of PG&E’s dams throughout its hydroelectric system in Northern California.