Nushagak Cooperative to revise Nuyakuk hydroproject study plan

Aug 27, 2020

After the working group settles on a revised plan, the FERC licensing process will restart, and there will be another three month comment period. Then the co-op can file the new plan with FERC and start aquatic feasibility studies next year.

 

Credit Courtesy of Bob Himschoot

Nushagak Cooperative is revisiting its study plan for the Nuyakuk River hydroelectric project after local entities voiced concerns that the project could alter or reduce fish passage up the river.

The cooperative estimates the hydroelectric generator would produce 58,200 megawatt hours a year. That’s more than double the energy requirements in the region, and the cooperative says it would reduce reliance on diesel fuel. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses energy projects like the generator. FERC approved the cooperative’s request for extra time to revise its study plan. CEO Bob Himschoot says they will meet with an aquatics working group this winter to go over the revision.

 

“People like BBSRI, the University of Washington FRI, NIMS, the department of Fish and Game," Himschoot said. "We’re going to get technical expertise, sit down and work through the study plan so that everyone can be comfortable with how we’ll proceed with the studies.”  

After the working group settles on a revised plan, the FERC licensing process will restart, and there will be another three month comment period. Then the co-op can file the new plan with FERC and start aquatic feasibility studies next year.

Still, Himschoot is cautious of the looming deadlines. The co-op has until 2023 to complete the licensing process, though it could qualify for an extension.

 

“Depending on when that timeline comes in, we won’t see a study plan authorized by FERC until next fall," Himschoot said. "But if we know there are significant studies that need to get started, we can go ahead and put people in the field and start getting data so we can extend the range of those studies inside the overall FERC licensing period.”

FERC could take up to one year to officially approve a license for the project if studies prove that the water turbine won’t hamper or harm fish passing through the river.

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200

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