The Project consists of six hydro developments, Carry Falls, Stark Falls, Blake Falls, Rainbow Falls, Five Falls, and South Colton, along the Raquette River in St. Lawrence County, New York.

The newly defined Upper Raquette River Project (URRP or Project) is comprised of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) license 2060 that includes Erie Boulevard Hydropower’s (EBH) Carry Falls development and FERC license 2084 that includes EBH’s Stark Falls, Blake Falls, Rainbow Falls, Five Falls, and South Colton hydro developments.

Project Name Upper Raquette
LIHI Certificate Number 14A
LIHI Effective and Expiration Dates July 9, 2014
July 9, 2022
Owner Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
State New York
Location Located along the Raquette River in St. Lawrence County, New York.
Installed Capacity 102.4 MW
Average Annual Generation 439.79 GWh
Facility Type Pulsing
FERC No. 2060, 2084

 

The Raquette River, with a total drainage basin of 1,269 square miles at its month, originates in the Adirondack highlands at Blue Mountain Lake, Raquette Lake and Long Lake, flows generally north-northwest for more than 120 miles, through Potsdam, New York and empties into the St. Lawrence River, near Massena, New York into the St. Lawrence River/Seaway at the St. Regis Indian Reservation in Franklin County.

The area experiences cold, snowy winters and short summers. Annual precipitation is about 40 inches. As the river flows north, it transitions from cold water habitat above the URRP, to a cool water aquatic fishery as the river reaches the lower gradients.

Most of the basin is sparsely populated, with much of the land forested and brush land. The URRP is in a largely rural, forested area that is dependent on forestry, some agriculture, wood products, and tourism.

Historically, the river has been developed for water power for sawmills, paper mills, tanneries, and other industry. The Adirondack Park boundary runs through the URRP. Carry Falls, Stark, Blake, and Rainbow are entirely within the Park boundary, while part of Five Falls is within the Park.

At the Project’s upstream boundary, the Carry Falls development, located at river mile (RM) 68 impounds 877 square miles (sq. mi.) of upstream drainage. This development’s seasonal storage pond is the largest on the Raquette River (RM 76 to 68) and is used to store and regulate the majority of this upstream flow to the remaining developments downstream.

The Stark dam and head pond is located immediately downstream of the Carry Falls dam. When the elevation of the Carry Falls reservoir falls below 1,355.0 feet mean sea level (MSL), a rare occurrence since being relicensed in February 2002, the Carry Falls and Stark impoundments essentially become one storage pond.

EBH’s FERC licensed Piercefield Project (P-7387) (RM 88) located on the Raquette River below the outlet of Tupper Lake, in the towns of Piercefield and Altamont, St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, New York is located above Carry Falls. At its downstream boundary, the South Colton development has a drainage area of 942 sq. mi. and is located at RM 52.

Major Project Works

The Carry Falls development has a total drainage area of 877 sq. mi. and consists of:

  • An 826-foot-long dam consisting of:
    1. A 568-foot-long and 76-foot-high concrete gravity spillway with a crest elevation of 1,386 feet MSL, and ;
    2. A 258-foot-long and 63-foot-high concrete gated non-overflow spillway with two 14.5-foot by 27-foot Taintor regulating gates, two 10-foot by 10-foot low-level sluice gates, and an intake structure with two 15-foot by 15-foot openings for future power installation. The development currently has no installed generating capacity;
  • Five earth dikes totaling 2,500 feet in length, with lengths varying from 320 feet to 1,015 feet, maximum heights varying from 12 feet to 31 feet, and each with a crest width of 12 feet at elevation 1,392 feet MSL;
  • A 7-mile-long reservoir with a 3,000-acre surface area and a 104,463-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation 1,385 feet MSL.

The Stark Falls development has a total drainage area of 877 sq. mi. and consists of:

  • A 35-foot-high concrete gravity-type dam with a concrete overflow section and a control gate section flanked by earth dikes;
  • six earth saddle dikes;
  • A 1.5-mile-long reservoir with a 641-acre surface area and a 12,000-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation of 1,355.0 feet MSL;
  • An intake;
  • A penstock, and;
  • A powerhouse containing a single 23.872-MW generating unit.

The Blake Falls development has a total drainage area of 908 sq. mi. with an intervening drainage area of 31 sq. mi. between the Stark Falls and Blake Falls developments. Blake Falls consists of:

  • 75-foot-high concrete gravity-type dam with a concrete overflow section;
  • An earth dike;
  • A 5.5-mile-long reservoir with a 660-acre surface area and a 12,800-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation of 1,250.5 feet MSL;
  • An intake;
  • A penstock, and;
  • A powerhouse containing a single 13.913-MW generating unit.

The Rainbow Falls development has a total drainage area of 927 sq. mi. with an intervening drainage area of 19 sq. mi. between the Blake Falls and Rainbow Falls developments. Rainbow Falls consists of:

  • A 75-foot-high concrete gravity-type dam with a concrete overflow section flanked by a 1,600-foot-long earth dike;
  • An earth saddle dike;
  • A 3.5-mile-long reservoir with a 710-acre surface area and a 12,700-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation of 1,181.5 feet MSL;
  • An intake;
  • A penstock, and;
  • A powerhouse containing a single 22.828-MW generating unit.

The Five Falls development has a total drainage area of 932 sq. mi. with an intervening drainage area of 5 sq. mi. between the Rainbow Falls and Five Falls developments. Five Falls consists of:

  • A 50-foot-high concrete gravity-type dam with a concrete overflow section flanked at each end by an earth dike;
  • A 1.0-mile-long reservoir with a 120-acre surface area and a 2,300-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation of 1,077.0 feet MSL;
  • An intake;
  • A 1,200-foot-long penstock, and;
  • A powerhouse containing a single 22.828-MW generating unit.

The South Colton development has a total drainage area of 942 sq. mi. with an intervening drainage area of 10 sq. mi. between the Five Falls and South Colton Falls developments. South Colton Falls consists of:

  • A 45-foot-high concrete gravity-type dam with a concrete overflow section and earth abutments;
  • A 1.5-mile-long reservoir with a 225-acre surface area and a 3,000-acre-foot usable storage capacity at normal maximum pool elevation of 973.5 feet MSL;
  • An intake;
  • A 1,300-foot-long penstock, and;
  • A powerhouse containing a single 18.948-MW generating unit.

Project Operations

The URRP operation is coordinated with EBH’s other hydropower developments on the Raquette River, within LIHI projects MRRP and LRRP.

As described in the Raquette River Project Offer of Settlement (RRPSO), submitted to FERC on April 22, 1998[1] and the 2002 FERC license[2], EBH agreed to a new Carry Falls guide curve. This new guide curve continues to provide a series of target elevations over the course of a given year, but raises the lower elevation limit from 1,332 to 1,355 feet MSL. This change ensures a separation in the operation of the Carry Falls and Stark Falls impoundments.

Use of this current guide curve allows for the downstream hydro developments within the URRP to operate in a peaking mode. Releases from Carry Falls are made to allow for downstream hydro developments to meet a scheduled energy demand. This operation is allowed as long as the Carry Falls reservoir level reasonably adheres to the guide curve. The maximum daily reservoir fluctuation under normal flow conditions at Carry Falls is limited to 30.0 feet.

Each of the downstream developments are allowed to operate in a pulsing mode that limits the maximum daily reservoir fluctuation under normal flow conditions to 1 foot at Stark Falls, Blake Falls and Rainbow Falls and to 2 feet at Five Falls and South Colton.

Each development is allowed to generate when total inflow is available to pass the minimum bypass flow plus run one turbine at its minimum turbine limit. Once a development’s net inflow (inflow available after passing minimum flow) exceeds the powerhouse’s hydraulic capacity, the powerhouse is run at full hydraulic capacity and all excess water is passed over the spillway or top of flashboards.

The URRP developments have an overall installed capacity of 102.4 MW and produce an average annual energy (AAE) of 439.79 GWh (Plant factor of 49.0%).

[1] RRPSO can be found here – http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/search/intermediate.asp?link_info=yes&doclist=1845587

[2] Carry Falls FERC License(P-2060) – http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13707255 and Upper Raquette River FERC License (P-2084) – http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=11860652

Certification History

May 15, 2015: The Upper Raquette River Hydroelectric Project has been certified for a third term of low impact certification, effective July 9, 2014 and expiring July 9, 2022.  The certification includes the following project specific condition:  Within 90 days after recertification, the owner of the Upper Raquette River hydropower projects shall provide LIHI with an updated description of the existing mitigation measures for fish passage and protection at all dams (e.g., eel ladders and 1”-spaced bar racks) and the current schedule for installation of new measures.  Additionally, an annual status report shall be provided along with the annual compliance statement to LIHI, describing new installations in the past year and any changes in operation of fish passage facilities.  If any events occur to delay or otherwise affect fishway operations, those shall be described in the annual status report.

In rendering this Certification, the Institute’s Executive Director used authority delegated by the LIHI Governing Board and a full review of the Application Reviewer’s report (available in the Files section below) and all public comments and additional materials provided by the Applicant.

June 4, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a comment letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the recertification of the Raquette River Project. The letter is available to read in full in the “Files” section below.

May 23, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a comment letter from John Omohundro regarding the recertification of the Raquette River Project. The letter is available to read in full in the “Files” section below.

May 12, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received an application for a third term of certification of the Raquette River Project. The current certificate term is set to expire on July 9, 2014, but to allow time for public comment and internal review, the term has been extended to August 30, 2014.

April 15, 2010: The Raquette River Project has been certified as low impact for a second five year term, effective July 9, 2009 and expiring July 9, 2014.

October 27, 2004: The Raquette River Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective July 9, 2004 and expiring July 9, 2009.

Files: