The Oswego River Project consists of three hydro developments, Fulton, Minetto and Varick, along the Oswego River in Oswego County, New York. The developments are all located at locks and dams owned by the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC), operator of the State Barge Canal System (SBCS).

Project Name Oswego River
LIHI Certificate Number 35B
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
December 7, 2017  to December 6, 2022
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P.
State New York
Location Located on the Oswego River, New York.
Installed Capacity 18.05 MW
Average Annual Generation  88,300 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-2474

The Oswego River is formed at the confluence of the Seneca and Oneida rivers and flows north approximately 23 river miles to Lake Ontario. The Oswego River first flows through the Lock 1 dam impoundment at the Phoenix Project (FERC No. 4113), which is owned by Algonquin Power. The water flow then enters the Oswego Falls impoundment formed by the Upper Fulton Dam (Lock 2, River Mile 12.6). The Oswego Falls East and Oswego Falls West developments (FERC No. 5984) are located immediately below this impoundment.

Once past the Oswego Falls Project, water flow enters the Fulton-Granby impoundment. The Granby Project (FERC No. 2837) and the Fulton Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474) are located along opposite sides of Lower Fulton Dam (Lock 3), approximately one mile below Upper Fulton Dam. The Oswego River next enters the impoundment formed by the Minetto Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474). The Minetto Development is located near Lock 5, approximately 6.4 miles downstream of Fulton and Granby. Next, water flow enters the impoundment at Lock 6 and the High Dam Project (FERC No. 10551), which is owned by the city of Oswego, with Erie providing operation and maintenance support for the plant. Finally, once past the High Dam Project, water flow enters the Varick Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474). The Varick Development is located near Lock 7, 1.4 miles above the mouth of Lake Ontario.

The Project is located on the Oswego River in Oswego County, NY and consists of three developments, each using dams owned by the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC). The developments consist of:

  • Fulton – located at river mile (RM) 11.6 and the Lower Fulton Dam (NYSCC Lock and Dam 3),
  • Minetto – located at RM 5.1 and the Minetto Dam (NYSCC Lock and Dam 5), and
  • Varick – located at RM 1.4 and the Varick Dam (NYSCC Lock and Dam 7).
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Upstream view of the Fulton (left) and Granby (right) developments at Lower Fulton Dam/Lock 3.

Fulton Development

The Lower Fulton dam was originally built in 1884 and consists of a 509-foot long and 15-foot high concrete buttress dam. It has a spillway crest elevation of 334.0 feet topped with 6-inch flashboards. The Fulton Development is located on the right bank (looking downstream) adjacent to Lock 3, and the Granby Development, which is owned by EBH but not part of the LIHI application, is located at the left end of the dam. The Fulton-Granby impoundment extends 0.5 miles upstream and has a gross volume of 250 acre-feet and a surface area of 33 acres at elevation 334.5 feet. The bypass reach below the Fulton Development is 1,850 feet long.

Licensed project works at the Fulton Development include:

  • A 35-foot-high, 41-foot-long, 14-foot-wide concrete intake structure equipped with three steel gates;
  • A 10-foot-long, 40-foot-wide, 11-foot deep forebay;
  • 3/8 inch thick steel bar trashracks with 1-inch openings;
  • A concrete and brick powerhouse containing two vertical fixed-propeller turbine-generators with power output capacities of 0.8 MW and 0.45 MW and a combined hydraulic capacity of 1,165 cfs;
  • A switchgear building; and appurtenant facilities.
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The Minetto Development at Minetto Dam/Lock 5.

Minetto Development

The Minetto dam was originally built in 1915 and is a 500-foot-long, 22.5-foot-high concrete gravity dam. It has a spillway crest at 307 feet, topped with 10-inch (0.8 foot) flashboards. The Minetto impoundment has a surface area of 350 acres at its normal pool elevation of 307.8 feet. The headwaters of the downstream High Dam Project back up to the base of the Minetto dam completely inundating the bypass reach.

Licensed project works at the Minetto Development include:

  • A 40 foot-high, 190 foot-long, 40-foot-wide concrete intake structure equipped with nine steel gates;
  • A 100-foot-long, 200-foot-wide, 25-foot-deep forebay;
  • ½ inch thick steel bar trashracks with 1-inch openings ;
  • A concrete and brick powerhouse containing five vertical Francis turbine-generator units with a combined installed capacity of 8.0 MW and combined hydraulic capacity of 7,500-cfs, and;
  • Appurtenant facilities.

Varick Development

The Varick dam is the last dam on the Oswego River before the river’s confluence with Lake Ontario. The Varick Development was originally built in 1926 and has a top crest elevation of 267.5 feet. It is located within the city of Oswego, so the lands around the project are relatively heavily developed. The 730-foot-long and 13-foot-high masonry gravity dam contains curved, straight, and gated sections and is topped with a series of stepped flashboards ranging in height from 10 inches to 36 inches. The Varick impoundment has a surface area of 32 acres at its normal pool elevation of 270.0 feet. The bypass reach is approximately 1,940 feet-long.

Licensed project works at the Varick Development include:

  • A 189 foot-long, 26-foot-high, 28-foot-wide intake structure with 24 steel gates;
  • A 950-foot-long, 150-footwide, 18-foot-deep forebay;
  • 3/8 inch thick steel bar trashracks equipped with 1-inch openings;
  • Ice sluice;
  • A concrete and brick powerhouse containing four are fixed-blade propeller turbines with a combined installed capacity of 8.8 MW and a combined hydraulic capacity of 5,600 cfs, and appurtenant facilities.

The Oswego River developments operate in a modified run-of-river (MROR) mode that limits impoundment fluctuations. Additionally, the Fulton and Varick developments have base flow requirements that vary seasonally.  Base flows can be supplied by any means including turbine releases. All three developments have a fish-friendly minimum flow requirement that must be satisfied prior to passing water through the turbines.

Each development of the Project generates 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 Fulton development operates in conjunction with the Granby Project. Because Granby shares the dam with Fulton, Granby operates in the MROR mode.  The allotment of flow to each powerhouse is based on available net inflow.

 

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The Varick Developments at Varick Dam/Lock 7.

 Certification History

June 4, 2018 – The 30-day appeal window for the preliminary certification decision of the Oswego River Hydroelectric Project closed on May 31, 2018 with no appeals to the decision received. The decision is therefore final and the Oswego River Hydroelectric Project is recertified for a term from December 7, 2017 through December 6, 2022.

May 1, 2018 – On April 27, 2018, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved the Oswego River Project for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification with the following condition:

Condition 1:  The Owner shall provide an annual summary report along with its annual compliance letter to LIHI, describing operational experience with river flows and reservoir levels over the past year, any significant flow events that occurred leading to any FERC-reportable deviations from flow requirements at the Oswego River Project, any collaboration with other river users, and any agency consultation and corrective actions taken in the ongoing efforts to reduce flow excursions at the Project which may be due to factors beyond the Owner’s control.

The reviewer’s report is attached at the bottom of this page. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented in the initial application 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted to comments@lowimpacthydro.org. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on May 31, 2018. 

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the new term for the Oswego River Project will be December 7, 2017 through December 6, 2022.

January 2, 2018: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Oswego River Hydroelectric Project. The Oswego River Project is located along the Oswego River in Oswego County, New York. The 2017 application materials can be found below. LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Oswego River project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook released in March 2016. Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2017 application materials posted on the project page. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with͞ Oswego River Comments in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on March 3, 2018 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted.

October 12, 2017: The Oswego River Hydroelectric Project has been granted an extension of the current term through June 30, 2018.

March 10, 2015:  The Oswego River Project has been determined to continue to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria, and a new Low Impact Certification term is effective December 7, 2012 with an expiration on December 7, 2017.  Prior to 2012,  the Oswego River Project was certified as part of the larger Oswego River Project (LIHI 35), which was comprised of hydro developments in FERC licenses 5984 and 2474 (Oswego Falls East, Oswego Falls West, Fulton, Minetto and Varick). LIHI’s five year certification for the Oswego River Project ended on December 7, 2012. Due to the large disparity in the FERC licensing time frames, LIHI has determined that the Oswego River Project needs to be separated into two individual LIHI projects. The Oswego Falls developments (Oswego Falls East, Oswego Falls West) in FERC license 5984 will now be defined as LIHI Project 35A going forward.  The remaining part of the original Certificate LIHI 35, for developments in FERC license 2474, will now be defined as the LORP or LIHI 35B.

January 16, 2013:  Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P. has submitted an application for recertification of the Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects.

July 3, 2008: The Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects have been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective December 7, 2007 and expiring December 7, 2012.

December 7, 2007: Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P. has submitted an application for certification of the Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects. A public comment period will be open for 60 days; all comments must be received by February 7, 2008.


Files:

2018 Recertification