The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved preliminary permits for Kenai Hydro LLC to explore the viability of low-impact hydroelectric energy projects on the Kenai Peninsula. Kenai Hydro must conduct economic, engineering and environmental impact and feasibility evaluations before it can apply for licenses for the projects. Kenai Hydro is jointly owned by Wind Energy Alaska LLC and Homer Electric Association.
“Low-impact” refers to hydroelectric generation that uses a waterway’s natural drop in elevation. Water would be diverted through a duct or pipe to generate electricity. Producing hydro power in this way has a minimal impact on the environment, as opposed to more traditional hydroelectric systems such as dams.
The sites that Kenai Hydro is evaluating are Grant Lake, Ptarmigan Creek/Lake, Falls Creek and Crescent Lake, all in the Moose Pass area north of Seward. The company estimates the sites could produce up to five megawatts of power each, or taken together could generate approximately 22 percent of Homer Electric Association’s current peak energy load for the peninsula.
Wind Energy Alaska LLC is a 50-50 joint venture between CIRI and international renewable energy company enXco Inc.