MWRA applies to surrender conduit exemption

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Massachusetts Water Resources Agency has petitioned federal hydropower regulators to surrender its exemption for the Aqueduct Transfer Station Small Conduit Project, a conduit hydropower facility which has not generated power since 1995.

MWRA is a Massachusetts public authority established by an act of the state legislature in 1984 to provide wholesale water and sewer services to 2.5 million people and more than 5,500 large industrial users in 61 metropolitan Boston communities.

In 1987, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued MWRA an exemption from licensing under the Federal Power Act for the Aqueduct Transfer Station Small Conduit Project.  As described in the Commission's order granting exemption from licensing, the project involves a 750-kilowatt turbine-generator fed by a conduit connecting two aqueducts.

But as described in MWRA's petition to surrender its exemption for the Aqueduct Transfer Station project, the aqueduct providing water to the turbine has only been used intermittently since 1996, and the project has not operated since 1995.  According to that petition, "It is not economical to maintain the hydropower facilities for such occasional use.  Therefore, MWRA is hereby proposing to decommission the hydroelectric Project and surrender the Exemption."  Specifically, MWRA proposes to decommission the project "by maintaining the valves to the turbine in a shut off and closed position and by locking out the electrical breaker from the generator and physically disconnecting the leads from the generator.  MWRA has no plans to remove the turbine and generating unit."

On October 4, the Commission issued a notice that MWRA's application had been filed with the Commission, setting a 30-day deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, protests, and recommendations.

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