The Oswegatchie River Project consists of 6 developments from upstream to downstream: Browns Falls (river mile or RM 96.9), Flat Rock (RM 94.1), South Edwards (RM 87.1), Oswegatchie (RM 86.6), Heuvelton (RM 12), and Eel Weir (RM 5.1) on the Oswegatchie River. All developments are within St. Lawrence County, New York.  The Project is owned by Erie Boulevard Hydropower LP (Brookfield Renewable Energy Group) and was most recently relicensed by FERC in 2012. The Project developments were originally constructed between 1913 and 1928.

The Oswegatchie River is a 137-mile-long river in northern New York that flows from the Adirondack Mountains north to the Saint Lawrence River. There are numerous hydroelectric projects located on the river, including three projects upstream of the Browns Falls development, seven projects located between the Oswegatchie and Heuvelton developments, and one project downstream of the Eel Weir development.

The four upstream developments (Browns Falls, Flat Rock, South Edwards, and Oswegatchie) are operated as peaking facilities.  The two downstream developments (Heuvelton and Eel Weir) operate in a run‐of‐river mode.

Project Name Oswegatchie River
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower LP (Brookfield Renewable Energy Group)
LIHI Certificate No.
161
LIHI Certificate Term May 17, 2019 – May 16, 2024
State New York
Location River mile 96.9 (Browns Falls) on the Oswegatchie River
Installed Capacity  Total: 28.56 MW

Browns Falls: 15.00 MW

Flat Rock: 5.07 MW

South Edwards: 2.92 MW Oswegatchie: 2.07 MW

Heuvelton: 1.04 MW

Eel Weir: 2.46 MW

Average Annual Generation  Total: 110,411 MWh

Browns Falls: 55,741 MWh

Flat Rock: 16,095 MWh

South Edwards: 17,249 MWh Oswegatchie: 8,080 MWh Heuvelton: 4,424 MWh

Eel Weir: 8,822 MWh

Facility Type The four upstream developments (Browns Falls, Flat Rock, South Edwards, and Oswegatchie) are operated as peaking facilities.

The two downstream developments (Heuvelton and Eel Weir) operate in a run‐of‐river mode.

FERC No. 2713

Browns Falls:

The Browns Falls Development includes a 941-foot-long, 69-foot-high concrete gravity dam with a 192.2-foot-long ogee spillway section and 2-foot-high seasonal flash boards. A 130.5-foot-long abutment section with a timber parapet wall and a 70-foot-long abutment section are located on the east side of the spillway; a 27.6- foot-long deep gate section is located on the west side of the spillway with a log sluice gate opening and two deep-sluice slide gates. A 62-foot-long intake section and a 458.7-foot-long abutment section are located on the west side of the spillway. The dam creates a 168-acre impoundment.

A gated intake structure leads to a 6,000-foot-long steel pipeline and a surge tank which leads to two 142-foot-long steel penstocks.  The powerhouse contains two vertical Francis turbine units rated at 7.5 MW each for a total installed capacity of 15.0 MW. The development creates a 7,500-foot-long bypassed reach.

Browns Falls operates in tandem with Flat Rock as a peaking facility to increase generation during periods of high electricity demand. The impoundment fluctuates on a daily cycle, typically drawing down when the demand for electricity increases and refilling when demand decreases.  The development operates with a maximum fluctuation of four feet from July 15 through March 14, and two feet from March 15 through July 14. Fluctuations greater than 3 feet occur infrequently. Erie maintains two-foot year-round flashboards designed to fail when overtopped in excess of 2 feet of river flow. A minimum flow of 30 cfs is provided year-round in the bypassed reach.

Flat Rock:

The Flat Rock Development includes a 658-foot- long, 70-foot-high concrete gravity dam with a 229-foot-long ogee spillway section and sluice gate, a 120-foot-long earthen embankment section with a concrete core wall on the east side of the spillway; a 95-foot-long abutment section on the east side of the spillway. The dam creates a 159-acre impoundment.  The intake section is located on the west side of the spillway along with a deep gate section, a deep-sluice slide gate; and a 134-foot-long abutment section.

The intake leads to the powerhouse containing two vertical Francis turbine units rated at 2.09 and 2.98 MW, for a total installed capacity of 5.07 MW.  The Flat Rock powerhouse is integral with the dam; therefore, there is no bypassed reach. Erie operates and maintains a boat launch and picnic area at the Flat Rock Development.

The Flat Rock development operates with a maximum fluctuation of four feet from July 15 through March 14, and two feet from March 15 through July 14. A minimum base flow of 160 cfs is provided year-round from the Flat Rock powerhouse which operates in tandem with Brown Falls as a peaking facility.

South Edwards:

The South Edwards Development consists of a 214.5-foot-long, 48-foot-high dam that includes an 88-foot-long, concrete gravity ogee spillway section with 2-foot-high seasonal flash boards; a 13.5-foot-long abutment section and a 17-foot-long abutment section with log sluice gate on the east side of the spillway; a 46-foot-long intake section on the west side of the spillway; and a 50-foot-long abutment section on the west side of the spillway.  There is a 510-foot-long earthen embankment and a 240-foot-long earthen embankment located upstream on the west side of the dam, each with concrete core walls and 10-inch-high flashboards. The dam creates a 79.2-acre impoundment.

The intake structure leads to a 1,106-foot-long fiberglass pipeline, a 4-foot- diameter butterfly valve and a 4-foot-diameter, 30-foot-long pipe connecting to the fiberglass pipeline and containing a minimum flow submersible Flygt turbine-generating unit rated at 0.24 MW.  A surge tank with a 4-foot-diameter, 63-foot-long overflow pipe that connects to the fiberglass pipeline. The powerhouse contains three horizontal Francis turbines rated at 1.0 MW, 1.0 MW, and 0.68 MW, for a total installed capacity of 2.92 MW, including the 0.24-MW minimum flow unit.  The South Edwards Development creates a 1,500-foot-long bypassed reach.

The South Edwards development operates with a maximum fluctuation of six feet from July 15 through March 14, and two feet from March 15 through July 14. Erie maintains two-foot year-round flashboards designed to fail when overtopped in excess of 2 feet of river flow. A minimum flow of 60 cfs year-round into the bypassed reach is typically provided by the minimum flow unit.

Oswegatchie:

The Oswegatchie Development consists of a 160- foot-long, 12-foot-high dam that includes an 80-foot-long, 12-foot-high concrete gravity spillway section; a 30-foot-long bedrock outcrop section on the west side of the spillway; and a 50-foot-long intake section on the west side of the spillway. The dam creates a 6-acre impoundment.  The intake structure leads to 75.5-foot-long steel penstock and a 6.5- foot-diameter, 65-foot-long steel penstock. The powerhouse contains two vertical Canadian Hydro Components turbines rated at 1.035 MW each for a total installed capacity of 2.07 MW. The Oswegatchie Development creates a 350-foot-long bypassed reach.

The Oswegatchie development operates with a maximum fluctuation of 0.4 feet. A minimum flow of 40 cfs year-round into the bypassed reach is provided by a minimum flow notch in the spillway.

Heuvelton:

The Heuvelton Development consists of a 285-foot- long, 19-foot-high concrete gravity dam and spillway topped with two 28-foot-long, 11.1-foot-high inflatable rubber bladder gates and four 28-foot-long, 11.1-foot-high Tainter gates. The dam creates a 239-acre impoundment.  The intake structure leads to the powerhouse which contains two vertical Francis turbines rated at 0.52 MW for a total installed capacity of 1.04 MW. The Heuvelton powerhouse is integral with the dam; therefore, there is no bypassed reach. Erie operates and maintains a picnic area at the Heuvelton Development.

The Heuvelton development operates in run-of-river mode with a maximum fluctuation of 0.5 feet. A minimum base flow of 275 cfs year-round is provided from the Project’s powerhouse.

Eel Weir:

The Eel Weir Development consists of a 1,122-foot- long, 26-foot high dam that includes a 774-foot-long, 26-foot-high Ambursen spillway section with a log sluice gate and two deep-sluice slide gates; a 120.5- foot-long abutment section on the east side of the spillway; a 117.5-foot-long intake section on the east side of the spillway and a 110-foot-long earthen embankment section on the west side of the spillway. The dam creates a 96-acre impoundment.  The intake structure leads to the powerhouse which contains two propeller-type turbines rated at 1.0 MW and one vertical Francis turbine rated at 0.46 MW, for a total installed capacity of 2.46 MW. The Eel Weir powerhouse is integral with the dam; therefore, there is no bypassed reach. Erie operates and maintains a canoe portage route at the Eel Weir Development.

The Eel Weir development operates in run-of-river mode with a maximum fluctuation of 0.5 feet. A minimum base flow of 325 cfs year-round is provided from the Project’s powerhouse.

Certification History:

September 9, 2019: The decision to certify the Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on September 8, 2019. The certification term for the Project is from May 17, 2019 through May 16, 2024.

August 8, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project. The Certification includes four conditions:

Condition 1: By no later than the first annual certification submittal to LIHI after certification the Facility Owner shall: a) Institute an annual review for appropriate personnel that reinforce each development’s proper operation and environmental flow requirements. Documentation stating the personnel attending and a summary of the material discussed shall be provided in annual compliance submittals to LIHI; and b) Provide a copy of the final procedure developed for Eel Weir to help eliminate future base flow deviation occurrences. Copies of any FERC filings, approvals, and consultation summaries should also be provided in annual compliance submittals to LIHI.

Condition 2:  The Facility Owner shall provide a summary of the effectiveness testing of the nature-like fishway at Heuvelton when testing is complete. Copies of any FERC filings, agency approvals, and consultation summaries should also be provided in annual compliance submittals to LIHI until testing is completed. LIHI reserves the right to modify certification based on upstream passage effectiveness results.

Condition 3: The Facility Owner shall provide a status update pertaining to the installation of 1-inch trashracks at the Browns Falls, Flat Rock and South Edwards in annual compliance submittals to LIHI. Copies of any FERC filings, approvals, and consultation summaries should also be provided to LIHI.

Condition 4: The Facility Owner shall provide a copy of the report to be submitted to FERC detailing the completion of the proposed recreational facilities no later than February 27, 2020.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 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 by email to comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Oswegatchie Hydroelectric Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website.  The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on September 8, 2019.  The full application and reviewer’s report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project (pending LIHI #161) will be May 17, 2019 for a term of five (5) years, which will expire on May 16, 2024.

May 20, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Oswegatchie Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below.

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 with “Oswegatchie Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on July 19, 2019 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.

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