Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

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John Britt
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Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by John Britt » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:14 pm

I recently read in a Monroe, La. newspaper that in its effort to go green the federal government has named Lock #6, the Felsenthal Lock and Dam, as a possible future hydroelectric site, number 55 on its list. Can anyone aim me in the right direction on where I can find a bit more info on how this will affect the refuge?
Recently an environmental survey decided that raising the pool level for an extended length of time was detrimental to the hardwood forest. The normal pool level is 65 feet with 15000 acres. When they raised it in the past the pool went to 69 feet, the top of the spillway, with a pool acreage of around 3600 and almost no dry land anywhere in the pool area.
All I have been able to find is info from 2005 about how this site was preselected when the dam was installed. Will they be able to generate enough head for hydroelectric without raising the pool level to flood condition is what I am really looking for. Thanks for any help on my question.

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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by AR-Nimrod » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:30 am

That's different from what we in South Ark are hearing. The news around here is that the COE is looking at going to part time (weekends) operation of the locks on the Ouachita in AR and future plans to maybe even opening them up and let the river go back to old levels (abandonment). They cannot justify keeping employees at these locks when there is so little commercial traffic (only 2-3 barges in a month).
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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by plastic worm » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:54 am

ORVA has some info about this on their website, not affiliated: http://www.orva.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Here in Crossett it's been presented as a reduction of lock hours or "by appointment" lock operations.
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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by John Britt » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:11 pm

Saw about the cuts to manpower at the locks and the possible stopping of the dredging also, but the part that stuck with me was the feds naming Lock 6 as a possible hydro site, number 55 out of 100. Felsenthal was not as high on the list as a couple of locks in Louisiana but this seemed odd after the environmental study that stopped them from flooding the hardwoods for duck hunting. There were a couple of sites listed on the Red also.
The report I found was from 2005 and it stated that hydro potential was one of the factors for rebuilding the dam in its present location.
Back to my original question, can they generate enough head to make electricity without flooding the pool to 69 feet, the current top of the spillway, or higher. If they flood it to 69 feet then most of the refuge will be underwater and it will just be one big lake as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I paddled at Jones Lake.
Supposedly the generators would be on the side away from the locks. They would probably lease/sell the rights to create power to a company like Entergy
and avoid the cost of operation.

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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by Jim E » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:40 am

To your question, it all depends on how much power they want or need.

There are micro generators available that only require a mere 4 ft of head but...they only can produce enough for basically one household. You might try searching to see if there has been a FERC permit application started for the project. There will be alot of info stated in it if there is or has. Don't be too concerned yet as there is an massive amount of red tape and studies that must be gone through first before project approval and permit issuance, of which most project "ideas" don't survive.
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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by John Britt » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:57 pm

Thanks Jim, I went to the FERC page and there has been no filing for Felsenthal. The article I read didn't mention how much power they expected to get from the dam but I got the impression they were looking at linking several sites together.
I looked at some topo maps of the area yesterday and found that with a little work they could actually raise the pool to about 74 feet. I'm hoping that it doesn't happen even though I'm sure that a lot of duck hunters and power boaters would.
This area is a unique swamp that when I fished it at a younger age I usually cussed all the bugs. But now I see more than fish and enjoy exploring the backwaters and creeks. It is really an experience to paddle through the flooded timber with nothing but trees, water, and the occasional wild critter in sight.
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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by Cowper » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:55 pm

I found a preliminary filing here: http://www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2 ... 8-02-21908" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

From that, this quote:

"k. Description of Project: The proposed runofriver project would utilize the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Felsenthal Lock and Dam and would consist of: (1) A proposed intake structure, (2) a proposed 250footlong, 144inchdiameter steel penstock, (3) a proposed powerhouse containing two generating units having a total installed capacity of 5 MW, (4) a proposed 1milelong, 25 kV transmission line, and (5) appurtenant facilities.
Applicant estimates that the average annual generation would be 18 GWh and would be sold to a local utility."

(That translates out to about 10 hours of generation per day)

But a different source described the potential this way:
“Jonesville has the greatest potential, with an estimated production capacity of 122.6 megawatts, followed by Columbia with 51.8 megawatts and Felsenthal with 40.4 megawatts.”

When I plugged some numbers into a power estimating spreadsheet, using pool elevation of 65’, I got much smaller MW potentials. So my guess would be that both the 5 MW preliminary filing project, and the 40.4 MW estimate from the other study, would have been based on relatively higher pool elevations. The higher they assume the pool can be maintained, the better it would make the economics look. At 69 feet, they get about 30% more power than at 65 feet; if they raised it to 74 feet they would get over 80% more.

I don't know if there is still any filing or application still in process or not.
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Re: Turning Felsenthal Lock and Dam into a hdroelectric dam

Post by John Britt » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:48 pm

Thanks Cowper, I never would have found this on my own. It expired in 2005 and would have to be refiled. It makes me a little nervous that I don't remember seeing anything locally about this, but I may have just missed it.
Sixty five foot is the normal pool now and as of last year an environmental study said that habitat would be damaged if the pool was flooded to sixty nine foot for any length of time. Hopefully that will be enough to discourage any long term flooding of the refuge, especially since there are other better sites for hydro generation.

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