Kaweah River Power Authority selling hydro plant to Canadian operator

Ontario Power Generation, Ontario’s largest energy provider has gathered the interest of the Kaweah River Power Authority to sell their hydro plant

By John Lindt

Sierra2theSea News Service

THREE RIVERS – Tulare County-based Kaweah River Power Authority has requested Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to transfer the license for their 20MW hydroelectric plant at Kaweah Lake’s Terminus Dam to Canadian-based Ontario Power Generation.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is Ontario’s largest energy provider, producing almost half of the electricity for the province. The US entity for the Canadian firm is called Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, a firm that actively seeks to buy underutilized hydro-electric facilities in the US and work to improve their operation. They would operate here under the name of Terminus Hydroelectric ,LLC.

Kaweah River Power Authority’s Mark Larsen says he cannot comment due to a confidentiality agreement. The FERC notice requires a 30-day comment period from Feb. 28 before the federal agency can take final action.

Terminus Dam generates hydroelectricity from the plant built in 1992 by the Kaweah River Power Authority – jointly managed by Tulare Irrigation District and Kaweah Dealt Water Conservation District.

Electricity generated here is distributed by Southern California Edison. The power plant currently has a capacity of 20.09 megawatts (MW), upgraded from its original capacity of 17 MW and generates roughly 40 million kilowatt hours per year. Kaweah has surfaced plans to expand this capacity by a further 9 MW, which would allow for the generation of an additional 9.2 million KWh but has not moved forward.

Sources says Kaweah River Power been operating at less than optimum levels due to fluctuating water levels as well as competition from other renewable power sources nearby, particularly all the solar generation that is coming online. Solar power prices are falling, putting downward pressure on energy prices for competitors.

OPG operates a diverse portfolio of low-cost, low-emission generating facilities including 66 hydroelectric, two nuclear, two biomass and one thermal station in Ontario. It also owns two other nuclear stations in Ontario that are leased on a long-term basis to a third party operator as well as co-owns two gas-fired stations.

While some critics look to dismantle dams and replace the power with solar, the Kaweah Lake dam serves multiple purposes from storm protection, water supply and recreation along with a clean power source. Josh Gabbatiss, writer for Carbon Brief: Clear on Climate suggests reservoirs and solar can work together.

“Rather than replacing hydropower facilities with solar PV, a far more sustainable approach would be to prioritize hydropower modernization investment which combines the strengths of both technologies. Today solar PV can be installed on the surface, or adjacent to a reservoir, increasing rather than replacing the overall generating capacity,” Gabbatiss said in an article published last August.

Citrus farms on the sales block?

Exeter-based Citrus Mutual’s president Casey Creamer must be getting tired telling everyone how tough it is to make any money growing oranges this year. Due to the on-going trade war with China and now a worldwide coronavirus epidemic, Creamer recently told one farm press publication “If we don’t get this thing straightened out in the next 30 days, we’re missing our major window for export,” he said. “We’re getting excited about regaining some market share, but the coronavirus is holding us back at this time.”

Creamer said the livelihood of growers depends on better days.

“Unfortunately, if it doesn’t correct itself here very soon, and you’re going to start seeing a lot more properties going up for sale and people getting out of the business.”

China has announced it will cut tariffs by one half – down to 35% in early March but USDA has not confirmed the news. This week in LA, a 48 size box of oranges is selling for $19, down from $28 this date a year ago, according to USDA.

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