Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GIPA Files for Rehearing of FERC Decision on Cohoes Falls Hydro Project

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to consider best use of the federally regulated Cohoes, N.Y. dam and hydropower plant when it granted a new license to the current owner, and so the case was remanded to FERC to review an alternative proposal of the Green Island Power Authority (GIPA). See Second Circuit Requires Consideration of GIPA Plan for Cohoes Falls Hydro Power Station, PULP Network, August 10, 2009. PULP joined with many other organizations in filing an amicus brief with the Circuit Court supporting GIPA's proposals.

The power plant known as the School Street Project in Cohoes was sold by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation as part of the New York PSC's effort to deregulate power generation, and the power plant has since changed hands several times. GIPA proposed to replace the School Street Project with a Cohoes Falls Project. The Cohoes Falls Project would increase renewable power production, restore public appreciation of the resource, and its Native American heritage, rewater the historic Cohoes Falls to run year round, save fish, and increase community economic development of the area by securing more low cost renewable power and enhancing recreational uses. The plan would improve public access and restore Cohoes Falls to the year-round beauty preserved by James J. Audubon when he painted the Cohoes Ducks:

On April 15, 2010, FERC issued an Order on Remand and Reinstating New License for the School Street Project No. 2539, Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P., 131 FERC ¶ 61,036 (2010). In that order, FERC rejected GIPA's Cohoes Falls Project proposal and denied standing to GIPA. In doing so, FERC also rejected GIPA's cost estimates for building a new, relocated dam and an improved power generating plant as being too low.

GIPA has now filed a Request for Rehearing with FERC specifying seventeen errors it believes require reversal. See Larry Rulison, GIPA Appeals Ruling on Cohoes Falls, Albany Times Union, May 18, 2010.

If FERC does not grant rehearing, the Request for Rehearing is a prerequisite for further court review under the Federal Power Act.

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