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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.675

Introduced by   Representatives Klein of East Montpelier, Ancel of Calais, Errecart of Shelburne, Canfield of Fair Haven, Donahue of Northfield, Johnson of Canaan, Larrabee of Danville, LaVoie of Swanton, Maier of Middlebury, McAllister of Highgate, McFaun of Barre Town and Shaw of Derby

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Public service; small hydroelectric facility

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require the public service board to develop recommendations regarding how to simplify and make predictable and timely the process by which small hydroelectric generating facilities may be authorized.  It proposes that the report: recommend how to identify small hydroelectric facilities, address permit application requirements, address multiple uses of water bodies that include small hydroelectric projects, and assess the overall advantages of these systems.  It proposes to require the secretary of natural resources to adopt by rule conservation flow standards for reviewing the water quality impact of a new, small run of river hydroelectric generation project, including water withdrawals, diversions, existing impoundments, and the construction of appurtenant facilities related to a project. Finally, it provides that for purposes of net metering, a union or district school net metering facility shall be considered in the same group net metering system with buildings of its member municipalities that are located within the service area of the same electric company that serves the facility.

AN ACT RELATING TO FACILITATING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRICITY FROM SMALL HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD REPORT ON PERMITTING SMALL

             HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS

Prior to December 15, 2008, the public service board shall report to the house committees on natural resources and energy and on fish, wildlife and water resources and to the senate committee on natural resources and energy with a recommendation for a simple, predictable, timely, and environmentally sound process, other than the process set forth in subsection 248(j) of Title 30, for issuing a certificate of public good under section 248 of Title 30 for small hydroelectric projects that are not eligible for a net metering permit under public service board rule 5.100.  In developing the report, the board shall consult with the agency of natural resources, appropriate federal officials, and other interested parties.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend criteria for determining what constitutes a small hydroelectric facility, including the allowable maximum amount of output capacity at the facility and the type of eligible facilities, natural features, or other sites.

(2)  Address permit application requirements, including ownership of the facility, interconnection, and structural safety of a small hydroelectric project.

(3)  Address additional uses of a small hydroelectric project such as flood control; fish and wildlife habitat; recreation; water supply; historic resource; and structural grade control for infrastructure, roads, bridges, and houses.

(4)  Assess whether the existing regulatory process for small hydroelectric power applications under 30 V.S.A. § 248 adequately addresses the advantages of existing uses of dams for purposes such as recreation, fish and wildlife, water supply, and flood control; the advantages of avoiding negative off-site environmental impacts such as acid rain, mercury deposition, and climate change; and the benefits of distributed generation, grid safety, and the economic development and job creation through development of renewable resources; or whether the process focuses too much on the on-site impacts of a proposed development.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 1111 is added to read:

§ 1111.  WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR SMALL

               HYDROELECTRIC GENERATION; RULEMAKING

(a)  This section is intended to establish a policy for new, small run of river hydroelectric generation projects that supports and is consistent with section 1001 of this title; with chapter 47 of this title, including the water quality standards; and with chapter 41 of this title, including the policy on water withdrawal for snowmaking.

(b)  The policy established under this subchapter is to:

(1)  assure the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the chemical, physical, and biological water quality, including water quantity, necessary to sustain aquatic communities and stream functions in the waters of the state.

(2)  help to provide for and enhance the viability of Vermont's towns and electric infrastructure, which can use certain state waters for the generation of small, environmentally sound run of river hydroelectric generation.

(3)  permit water withdrawals, diversions, redevelopment of existing impoundments, and the construction of appurtenant facilities for small environmentally sound hydroelectric generation, and other applicable laws and rules.

(c)  The secretary of natural resources shall adopt by rule conservation flow standards for reviewing the water quality impact of a new, small run of river hydroelectric generation project, including water withdrawals, diversions, existing impoundments, and the construction of appurtenant facilities related to a project.  The rules shall also be used in developing positions to be asserted by the agency of natural resources in other state regulatory processes governing conservation flows for new, small run of river hydroelectric generation projects.

(d)  Under the rules:

(1)  the agency shall authorize a 7Q10 conservation flow for bypasses of fewer than 500 feet in length consistent with the agency of natural resources’ commitment in the agency procedure for determining minimum stream flows to recommend bypass flows of at least 7Q10 in order to protect aquatic habitat and maintain dissolved oxygen concentration in the bypass and below the project.

(2)  For bypasses over 500 feet in length:

(A)  The agency of natural resources shall approve a conservation flow of:

(i)  the statewide median daily flow for August as the aquatic base flow (ABF); or

(ii)  the August median flow where a minimum of 25 years of U.S. Geologic Survey gauging records exist for the river at or near a hydroelectric generation project site on a river, which shall include a nearby river, and such records indicate that the river is free-flowing and maintains a flow that will be adequate throughout the year, unless additional flow releases are necessary for fish spawning and incubation; or

(iii)  If the ABF is superseded for spawning and incubation flows:

(I)  the statewide February median flow; or

(II)  the use of February median flow data where a minimum of 25 years of U.S. Geologic Survey gauging records exist at or near a project site on a river, which shall include a nearby river, that is basically free-flowing.

(3)  A 7Q10 release at existing dams shall meet the aesthetic criteria of the Vermont water quality standards.

(4)  Dams with existing operating regimes (flood control, water supply, recreation) shall be operated according to their primary purpose, and established flow regulation at those sites shall take precedence over conservation flow requirements for new run of river hydroelectric generation.

(5)  The agency of natural resources shall propose changes in existing regulatory programs that would be necessary if the state were to institute a consistent policy in regard to fish passage at all existing dams, regardless of the use for the dam.

(e)  The rules required under subsection (a) of this section shall not supersede water quality standards adopted by the board pursuant to chapters 41 and 47 of this title.  The rules required under subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to currently operating hydroelectric facilities and shall achieve the purposes of this subchapter.

(f)  For purposes of this section, “small run of river hydroelectric generation project” means a dam with a generation capacity of no more than two megawatts that operates by allowing most, if not all, of the inflow to the dam to pass over the dam or flow out of the reservoir.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 219a(g)(5) is added to read:

(5)  A group net metering system may consist only of customers that are located within the service area of the same electric company.  Various buildings owned by municipalities, including water and wastewater districts, fire districts, villages, school districts, and towns, may constitute a group net metering system.  A union or district school facility shall be considered in the same group net metering system with buildings of its member municipalities that are located within the service area of the same electric company that serves the facility.  If it determines that it would promote the general good, the board shall permit a noncontiguous group of net metering customers to comprise a group net metering system.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us