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Thread: Kenai Hydro- Grant Creek project nearing FERC application

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    Default Kenai Hydro- Grant Creek project nearing FERC application

    There is an old thread about this here: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...y-it-isn-t-so?


    I attended a meeting in Moose Pass this evening hosted by HEA/Kenai Hydro, where they shared the results of their environmental studies and outlined their design plans for a hydroelectric project on Grant Creek. Long story short they are preparing a FERC application that will be ready for submission around the end of February 2015. Then there will be a 90 day public comment period where concerned parties can get on the public record. According to the guy responsible for creating the permitting application, it would take 9 months to over a year for FERC to decide.
    Tons of info is here: http://www.kenaihydro.com/
    I appreciate the amount of effort that went into studying this watershed and the potential environmental impacts. The guys who did the work were all knowledgeable people. Unfortunately what looks good on paper isn't always going to pan out in practice, and the impression I was left with after the three hour meeting was that these Kenai Hydro guys were doing a good job of just covering all their bases so they look good on a FERC application. The reality is that there is very little room left for public comment now, and these guys seemed to want to minimize any opportunity for further public comment on the project.

    I am against this project for several reasons. I spend a lot of time hiking, skiing and fishing in this area and enjoy it very much the way that it is. Also, I do not trust in their ability to mitigate impacts on salmon. I felt like they glossed over some important stuff, like ensuring that the water temperature in the creek allows for healthy egg incubation while operating at higher than normal flows in the winter months. Lastly, I think it is a poor choice economically. The plant will generate 4% of the electricity that Homer Electric sells each year. The projected cost is now upwards of 55 million (started out much less, I think around 40 million...), and will not see a ROI for 34 years. This all came from them this evening during the Q&A session.

    Another factor in all this is the fact that I as a resident of Seward will not see any of the benefits of this project in my electric bill. But with the plant producing such a small fraction of my energy consumption I probably would not notice the savings anyway. Even if it was my hydro plant I still wouldn't go for it.

    I am hoping that the members of the Homer electric cooperative who read this message board feel the same way- that 4% of your annual power usage is not worth a 50 million dollar hydro plant in the headwaters of the Kenai River. Please contact the board of directors and urge them to give this project up! One email with everyone on the board cc'd would take 5-10 minutes of your time. I plan on voicing my opinion, but I think it is critical that HEA members voice their opposition.
    HEA board contact info here:
    http://www.homerelectric.com/Boardof...4/Default.aspx

    While the public comment period during the FERC application process would allow one to express opposition to this project, I think a more direct and local solution is to first try to convince the HEA board to pull out of this project. Word is that the board voted on proceeding with Grant Creek some time back and it narrowly passed with a 5-4 vote.
    Thanks for reading this. I don't get on here to post much, but I look forward to this discussion.

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    There was a presentation about this at the KRSMA Board meeting tonight. Interesting. As someone who lives at ground zero for the the Kenai PU fishery, I could see how the fact that it would change your local landscape would be a major issue for someone who lives in the area. I knew little of this project until your post, and consider myself somewhat neutral. A couple of interesting points:

    They have scrapped the dam. No dam. Apparently there are not fish in Grant lake - a fairly large waterfall and canyon void of much aquatic activity is what will be bypassed. That said, if I understood correctly they do not plan to de-water the whole creek. There would be a 10' u-shaped pipe to drain water from the bottom of the lake, run it through 2ea 2.5MW turbines, (anywhere from 40-385cfs and average of I think 2mw) and dump it back in downstream of the canyon before most of the fish habitat. Also, they are ambivilant as to access issues - they say they will put up a gate if asked - with the bridge area being the most effective area for a gate - or open the area to recreation if that is the consensus from the community. It will only provide around 5% of HEA power needs, will be expensive, but many hydro projects have useful lives of up to and over 100 years. They will try to finance the project over 30-50 years, and the cost is TBD

    Hope that helps. Good thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    There was a presentation about this at the KRSMA Board meeting tonight. Interesting. As someone who lives at ground zero for the the Kenai PU fishery, I could see how the fact that it would change your local landscape would be a major issue for someone who lives in the area. I knew little of this project until your post, and consider myself somewhat neutral. A couple of interesting points:

    They have scrapped the dam. No dam. Apparently there are not fish in Grant lake - a fairly large waterfall and canyon void of much aquatic activity is what will be bypassed. That said, if I understood correctly they do not plan to de-water the whole creek. There would be a 10' u-shaped pipe to drain water from the bottom of the lake, run it through 2ea 2.5MW turbines, (anywhere from 40-385cfs and average of I think 2mw) and dump it back in downstream of the canyon before most of the fish habitat. Also, they are ambivilant as to access issues - they say they will put up a gate if asked - with the bridge area being the most effective area for a gate - or open the area to recreation if that is the consensus from the community. It will only provide around 5% of HEA power needs, will be expensive, but many hydro projects have useful lives of up to and over 100 years. They will try to finance the project over 30-50 years, and the cost is TBD

    Hope that helps. Good thread.
    tbsmith - just a few corrections - there are fish in Grant Lake - just not salmon. There may not be many of them because of the glacial nature but there are fish. Relative to the project the system produces chinook, coho, and sockeye. The numbers of salmon are not insignificant and we should not lose them from the river. With changes in flow and temperature they are at risk. So we are going to take a loss of resources for 5% electrical production. This is a bad project from the start and still is a bad project. We should look at alternatives to this project for the 5% even if they may cost more up front. I am sick of trading off salmon resources for just economic gain.

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    I thought there was an impassible waterfall. Not trying to argue but I don't know much about this project or lake. And when you say not many fish, like one or two, hundreds, or thousands, and what type? I realize, like Mr. Johnstone, that "every fish counts", but try to be more practical than him in my application of that philosophy. That is to say that while it may only be 5% of our electrical production, hydropower is emission-free power that can be very cost-effective, and a project like this can last for many years. The fact that it may kill one fish is not a deal breaker for me, but I am sensitive to alteration/destruction of fish habitat. I also know that this computer needs power from somewhere...

    Not arguing for or against, just trying to see both sides.

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    With the current Kenai Chinook dilemma, there are enough of first run kings in Grant Creek to warrant full protection. This hydro project is about as asinine as the Cooper Creek hydro project. I thought we learned our lesson from that one.
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    My understanding was that the water would be dumped back in upstream of this habitat. What are the possible risks to Chinook salmon that may have been left out or glossed over in these presentations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    My understanding was that the water would be dumped back in upstream of this habitat. What are the possible risks to Chinook salmon that may have been left out or glossed over in these presentations?
    From what I gather, if I had to use a rounded off number, that number would be be zero percent King salmon harmed.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Now that 6 years has elapsed, three of the original proposed projects... Falls Creek, Crescent, and Ptarmigan... have been scrapped (deemed "unfeasible"). :applause:



    Now we're left with one "feasible" project... Grant.

    Lo and behold.... it's the one that includes a dam.... gee, imagine that?

    Question tb, the Kenai-Hydro site states that the natural mean annual outflow of Grant Creek is 193 cfs, yet the project plan calls for the turbines to operate at 385 cfs. Can you explain the discrepancy?

    Obviously they intend to take the entire Grant Lake outflow and divert it thru the powerhouse. But I don't get how you make more from less. Your thoughts?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    It sounded like they plan to run the 5mw facility at an average of around 2-3mw (I think), meaning that they would not operate at 385 cfs very often maybe? He said between 40-385cfs, which is a pretty broad range. I do not think the plan de-waters the creek completely, although by my redneck math 193 cfs is probably about 2.5mw if 385cfs is 5mw. Don't know how there will be water left for the creek. Also there is a catch pond down below I think to mitigate high flow times. Shooting from the hip but that's what I caught.

    Also, no dam. They totally eliminated the dam, which will not affect output so much as the ability to bank energy in the lake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Now that 6 years has elapsed, three of the original proposed projects... Falls Creek, Crescent, and Ptarmigan... have been scrapped (deemed "unfeasible"). :applause:



    Now we're left with one "feasible" project... Grant.

    Lo and behold.... it's the one that includes a dam.... gee, imagine that?

    Question tb, the Kenai-Hydro site states that the natural mean annual outflow of Grant Creek is 193 cfs, yet the project plan calls for the turbines to operate at 385 cfs. Can you explain the discrepancy?

    Obviously they intend to take the entire Grant Lake outflow and divert it thru the powerhouse. But I don't get how you make more from less. Your thoughts?

    You take ale a small 'pond' ( maybe 20 x 20 feet and ten ft deep), pipe it downhill approx 300 to 400 ft and drive the power thru the turbines.
    The 'dam' need only hold the ' pond'.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    My understanding was that the water would be dumped back in upstream of this habitat. What are the possible risks to Chinook salmon that may have been left out or glossed over in these presentations?
    The question is how do they plan to do that? Cooper Creek, which once flourished with abundant sockeye runs and other species, is now a semi-steril creek. Since the water is redirected through a pipe in the ground, the temperature regime is VERY cold due to a lack of direct sunlight and since no photosynthesis takes place in that stretch, no macro-invertebrates or aguatic plants exist in that stretch of river. This results in a creek, which was once highly productive for numerous salmonid species, to be very unproductive.
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    I don't have an opinion either way on this project but the people that are totally against maybe put up an alternative. Its not feasible to just say no, no, no on every hydro plant. If hydro is out and fossil fuels are out what is left. And please don't say wind. Wind not only sucks, it blows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiak kid View Post
    I don't have an opinion either way on this project but the people that are totally against maybe put up an alternative. Its not feasible to just say no, no, no on every hydro plant. If hydro is out and fossil fuels are out what is left. And please don't say wind. Wind not only sucks, it blows.
    Pick any creek that is void of any fish species due to natural heavy metals. Pick ANY of those creeks, just not creeks with fish species especially creeks with anadromous fish populations.
    Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    My understanding was that the water would be dumped back in upstream of this habitat. What are the possible risks to Chinook salmon that may have been left out or glossed over in these presentations?
    Smith, the creek has salmon but the lake does not - other species like sticklebacks are probably in the lake but I do not think anyone has looked. Remember you cannot look at a hydro-project just from a single species - the ecosystem impacts have to be considered. Relative to that issue you cannot just say they are putting water back in the creek so everything is fine. Every hydro-dam I know of has downstream impacts due to water quality changes, temperature changes, alteration of flow patterns, and the list goes on. I just think 5 MW of power for the risk to the salmon resources of Grant Creek makes little sense.

    Someone asked for alternatives. First, it has been shown that conservation methods provide huge benefits in terms of power usage. Second, one cannot dismiss wind in Cook Inlet or tidal power. Finally gas is an option with the more efficient systems. I am not an expert on this but with 20,000 sockeye produced by this system in some years and Chinook I would think one would rethink this project.

    Hydro-power is cheap only if you ignore a lot of the environmental costs. In the Columbia the number of ecologically significant units listed and loss of some of them makes a strict economic view pretty simplistic. How do you put a cost on a species that is lost forever?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiak kid View Post
    I don't have an opinion either way on this project but the people that are totally against maybe put up an alternative. Its not feasible to just say no, no, no on every hydro plant. If hydro is out and fossil fuels are out what is left. And please don't say wind. Wind not only sucks, it blows.
    Coal from Healy! Oh wait, you said no fossil.

    I'm right there with ya. Lots of criticism with no alternative suggestions.

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    [QUOTE=Nerka;1444474. I am not an expert on this but with 20,000 sockeye produced by this system in some years and Chinook I would think one would rethink this project.
    Hydro-power is cheap only if you ignore a lot of the environmental costs. In the Columbia the number of ecologically significant units listed and loss of some of them makes a strict economic view pretty simplistic. How do you put a cost on a species that is lost forever?[/QUOTE]

    C'mon man! No matter what side you're on, let's keep this real. It serves no purpose to exaggerate a situation so as to reflect no similarity between one situation and another (world). this is in NO way comparable to the Columbia.
    Secondly, w/o identifying "this system" you again portray what may not be reality. Is 'the system' Grant creek? No. Upper trail lakes. Ok. Maybe. But there are millions of sockeye in the Kenai system.
    I have seen these micro operations in service. If this is similar to what I've seen before, knowing what I know about these hydros, I see little if ANY impact to the "system".
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post

    Also, no dam. They totally eliminated the dam, which will not affect output so much as the ability to bank energy in the lake.
    "Storage would be obtained by raising the natural level of Grant Lake using a low diversion at the outlet and drawing down Grant Lake below its natural water level."

    Call it what you want... it's a DAM! A wall that allows the lake level to be manipulated thru an excursion of 13 feet... 2 ft above grade and 11 ft below.

    "An intake structure will be constructed approximately 500 feet east of the natural outlet of Grant Lake. An approximate 3,200-foot-long, 10-foot diameter horseshoe tunnel will convey water from the intake to directly above the powerhouse"

    The only way to make more flow is to increase the volume of water collected by this "intake structure"... meaning its capacity would be at least 385 cvs, double the current natural outflow. This must be why they need the ability to go 11-below... the only way to sustain the artificial 2X flow is to draw the lake down!

    Can it be done any other way?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Smith, the creek has salmon but the lake does not - other species like sticklebacks are probably in the lake but I do not think anyone has looked. Remember you cannot look at a hydro-project just from a single species - the ecosystem impacts have to be considered. Relative to that issue you cannot just say they are putting water back in the creek so everything is fine. Every hydro-dam I know of has downstream impacts due to water quality changes, temperature changes, alteration of flow patterns, and the list goes on. I just think 5 MW of power for the risk to the salmon resources of Grant Creek makes little sense.

    Someone asked for alternatives. First, it has been shown that conservation methods provide huge benefits in terms of power usage. Second, one cannot dismiss wind in Cook Inlet or tidal power. Finally gas is an option with the more efficient systems. I am not an expert on this but with 20,000 sockeye produced by this system in some years and Chinook I would think one would rethink this project.

    Hydro-power is cheap only if you ignore a lot of the environmental costs. In the Columbia the number of ecologically significant units listed and loss of some of them makes a strict economic view pretty simplistic. How do you put a cost on a species that is lost forever?
    Actually most of the studies I have looked at show this area to be a poor candidate for wind generation compared to other places nationwide, but I am no authority in that field. Did you know that the low pressure which develops behind wind turbine blades attracts bats and when they fly into that low pressure field they explode? Or so I was told by a turbine mechanic. Yes, tidal would be cool, but wouldn't that likely kill fish also?

    As for putting a cost on loss of a species - I'm more of a cosmic view guy. We're all going to cease to exist (both individually and as a species) at one point or another. The cost of our disappearance is measured by the affect it has on those beings which remain. So if we kill every salmon in Cook Inlet, that is a big loss, big effect, huge cost. However ridding my house of bedbugs or giving a serial killer ye ole' Mozambique is an extinction event with no cost but rather a net gain.

    I think there is a degree of loss which is acceptable for a project such as this. I am just not sure what that loss will be, or if anyone really is, and the mere 5% contribution makes me pretty risk adverse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    "Storage would be obtained by raising the natural level of Grant Lake using a low diversion at the outlet and drawing down Grant Lake below its natural water level."

    Call it what you want... it's a DAM! A wall that allows the lake level to be manipulated thru an excursion of 13 feet... 2 ft above grade and 11 ft below.

    "An intake structure will be constructed approximately 500 feet east of the natural outlet of Grant Lake. An approximate 3,200-foot-long, 10-foot diameter horseshoe tunnel will convey water from the intake to directly above the powerhouse"

    The only way to make more flow is to increase the volume of water collected by this "intake structure"... meaning its capacity would be at least 385 cvs, double the current natural outflow. This must be why they need the ability to go 11-below... the only way to sustain the artificial 2X flow is to draw the lake down!

    Can it be done any other way?
    They were very specific. No raising of the water level 2 feet any longer. No diversion. Pretty sure on that.

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    I guess Ive never seen a creek that was totally void of fish. And if there is, does it fit the criteria that would handle a hydro plant? Idk. So far yes I can rule out wind. With out mega government substitutes it doesn't pencil out, and so far the technology isn't there to call it a cheep, clean (power quality) power and there is always the birds it kills that get the bird people up in arms. Hydro and Coal are in a league of its own when your talking cheep power. I don't know much about tidal. I do think the utility out of Dillingham has done some work in tidal but if I remember right they have spent quite a bit of money and don't have much to show for it. Maybe somebody knows the scoop on that?

    Quote Originally Posted by FishGod View Post
    Pick any creek that is void of any fish species due to natural heavy metals. Pick ANY of those creeks, just not creeks with fish species especially creeks with anadromous fish populations.

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