On May 23, 2019, FERC issued a 10-year pilot license to the Igiugig Village Council (“Igiugig Village”) to construct, operate, and maintain its 70-kilowatt hydrokinetic project located on the Kvichak River near the town of Igiugig, Alaska (“Igiugig Project”).  The Igiugig Project will enable to Igiugig Village to test new hydrokinetic technology to power the Igiugig Village.

The hydrokinetic pilot project licensing process was developed by Commission Staff as an alternative process based on the Integrated Licensing Process for standard hydropower licenses.  According to the Commission, the hydrokinetic pilot project licensing process is intended to meet the needs of applicants interested in testing new hydropower technologies while minimizing the risk of adverse environmental impacts.  The pilot project licensing process is outlined in the Commission Staff’s white paper, which provides that a pilot project be: (1) small, (2) installed for a short term, (3) located in non-sensitive areas based on the Commission’s review of the record, (4) removable and able to be shut down on short notice, (5) removed, with the site restored, before the end of the license term (unless a new license is granted for the project), and (6) initiated by a draft application in a form sufficient to support environmental analysis.  The Commission reviewed the Igiugig Village’s pilot project application and determined that the Igiugig Village’s proposal meet these criteria.  The Commission reviewed recommendations from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Department of the Interior in determining whether to issue the license.

The Igiugig Project will consist of two in-stream, 35-kW RivGen Power System Turbine Generator Units (“RivGen Units”), each installed during separate phases of the pilot license, two anchoring systems, a combined power, data, and environmental monitoring underwater cable, underwater cables connecting each RivGen Unit to a junction box, and a shore station for housing project electronics and controls.  The Project will operate year-round to generate electric energy using the currents of the Kvichak River and electric energy generated by the Igiugig Project will be transmitted to the Igiugig Village’s distribution system.  The Igiugig Project is expected to generate 202 megawatt-hours (“MWh”) of electricity annually during Phase 1 and 404 MWh annually during Phase 2.  The Igiugig Project boundary encompasses 4.55 acres,and will not occupy federal land.  With Commission Staff-recommended measures, the Igiugig Project will produce electricity at a cost that is $323.14/MWh, more than the cost of alternative power.

A copy of FERC’s order is available here.