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FERC Issues Order Approving Operations Monitoring Plan Pursuant to Article 404 re Upper Peninsula Power Company Under P-1864

July 31, 2014

WASHINGTON, July 31 -- The U.S. Department of Energy'sFederal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the text of the following delegated order:

Upper Peninsula Power Company

Project No. 1864-185


(Issued July 31, 2014)

1. On June 19, 2014Upper Peninsula Power Company, licensee for the Bond Falls Project No. 1864, filed an Operations Monitoring Plan (Plan) pursuant to license Article 404. The project is located on the Ontonagon River in Ontonagon and Gogebic counties, Michigan and Vilas County, Wisconsin. The project occupies federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service within the Ottawa National Forest.


2. License Article 404 requires the licensee to develop and file an Operations Monitoring Plan within 60 days of the date that the Commission verifies the licensee has met the requirements of Article 301. The Plan is required to include; a description of the methodology for providing flow data for the Middle Branch and Bond Falls canal, provisions to record gate settings, provisions for recording Bond Falls and Victoria reservoir elevations, a provision to provide compliance verification data to agencies, a description of the methodology to provide data equivalent to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data, a provision to obtain rating curve and elevation verification, the frequency of data recording and format of compliance reports, and provisions to provide compliance reports to interested agencies. The article also requires the licensee to file a report after 3 years of monitoring to determine whether the reservoir elevation and discharge limits of the license could be met without affecting project operation.

3. The licensee is required to develop the Plan in consultation with the Bond Falls Implementation Team which consists of; the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Michigan DNR), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Keewanaw Bay Indian Community, and the Michigan Hydro Relicensing Coalition.

Licensee's Plan

4. The Plan states that all minimum flow releases from the Bond Falls main dam, including flow through the Middle Branch, would be recorded using ultrasonic flow monitors. The Plan states that the licensee funds a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gage which measures flow though the Bond Falls canal. The licensee is also using a pressure transducer to record canal water elevations and plans to develop a stage-discharge curve for the canal. Data for Bond Falls main dam releases are publicly available on the licensee's website and releases into the canal will be made publicly available within 90 days of the approval of the Plan. The licensee proposes to update the information every 10 minutes. These data could also be provided to the Commission and members of the Bond Falls Implementation Team in hourly average format upon request. The Plan states that in the event of an equipment malfunction, the licensee would avoid adjustments to flow releases and manually record flows using staff gages and stage-discharge curves, where necessary.

5. The Plan states that all gates at the Bond Falls development and one of the four gates at the Victoria development include gate position sensors. For the three other gates at the Victoria development, and if the sensors fail, the licensee would manually view and record the settings when gate adjustment are made. The licensee plans to use the gate position, whether manually obtained or provided by the sensors, to calculate discharge. The licensee would then record this information in its electronic database. Furthermore, within 2 years of the approval of the Plan, the licensee proposes to develop an accurate flow-generation curve for the Victoria powerhouse and would estimate and record flows through the powerhouse based upon the amount of power produced.

6. According to the Plan, the licensee would monitor reservoir elevation at the Bond Falls and Victoria developments through the use of pressure transducers. Data from these instruments would be included in the electronic database on hourly intervals and would also be included on the licensee's publicly available website. The licensee proposes to calibrate the equipment at least once per month by comparing the measured reservoir elevation with that indicated on the staff gage. The licensee also plans to calibrate the staff gage every 5 years or each time it is disturbed.

7. The Plan also shows that the USGS, in cooperation with the licensee, monitors the elevation and releases from the Bergland and Cisco developments. Data from these gages would be recorded in accordance with USGS protocols. Data obtained solely from the licensee's equipment would be recorded on an hourly basis.

8. In the Plan, the licensee does not propose to prepare and file any periodic compliance reports. Instead, the licensee proposes to discuss operational compliance with members of the Bond Falls Implementation Team during its annual meetings and file a summary of this discussion with the required annual consultation report. Additionally, the license states that it has generally been complying with license conditions since the license was issued in 2003, and believes that it has already fulfilled the 3 year monitoring requirement of Article 404.


9. The licensee sent a draft Operations Monitoring Plan to members of the Bond Falls Implementation Team on April 30, 2014. The U.S. Forest Service and the Michigan DNR provided comments on the draft Plan. The licensee incorporated most of the comments into the plan and provided rational explanations for not adopting several of the recommendations. No other consulted entities provided comments on the draft plan.


10. The purpose of the Operations Monitoring Plan is to show how the licensee would maintain and monitor compliance with the reservoir elevation requirements of Article 401 and the flow requirements of Article 402. The Plan includes methods for monitoring elevations and flow, validating instruments and methods used to obtain data, and contingencies in the event of equipment failure. We conclude that these methods and procedures should sufficiently allow the licensee to monitor and record license compliance under most foreseeable conditions.

11. In its Plan, the licensee does not propose to file regular compliance reports, nor does it plan to conduct a 3 year monitoring program following approval of the Plan. We agree with the licensee in both cases. The proposal to annually consult with members of the Bond Fall Implementation Team and provide data upon request should adequately reveal and facilitate the investigation of any particular compliance problem. Additionally, the project has been operating under the license conditions for over 10 years, and any impacts the requirements have on project operation should have disclosed themselves by now. Therefore, we will consider the 3 year monitoring and reporting requirement of license Article 404 to have been fulfilled.

12. We have reviewed the Plan and determined that it complies with the requirements of license Article 404 and should be approved.

The Director orders:

(A) The Operations Monitoring Plan filed on June 19, 2014, by Upper Peninsula Power Company for the Bond Falls Project No. 1864 is approved.

(B) This order constitutes final agency action. Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days from the date of its issuance, as provided in section 313(a) of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. section 825l (2012), and the Commission's regulations at 18 C.F.R. section 385.713 (2014). The filing of a request for rehearing does not operate as a stay of the effective date of this order, or of any other date specified in this order. The licensee's failure to file a request for rehearing shall constitute acceptance of this order.

Kelly Houff Chief, Engineering Resources Branch Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance

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Source: Targeted News Service

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