New Friends

One of the things I enjoy most about being in the renewable energy business is meeting people and making new friends. We just finished an installation for a couple in New Hampshire, and their friendliness and hospitality made the job easier and more enjoyable. I have found that most people that are committed to renewable energy have a great outlook on life and are wonderful people.

Microhydro and permitting

If you are considering developing a water resource to generate electricity, there are a few things you need to consider and action to take:

  1. Determine if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has any jurisdiction over your project. There is an exemption process that FERC uses to make that determination, and you start by completing an Initial Consultation Document (ICD) relative to a 5 megawatt exemption (the largest system they will consider exempting). No system is too small. In the words of one FERC representative “We exempted a 40 watt system.”
  2. Contact your state water engineering and permitting sections to get their input on stream alterations or potential biological impacts your project may have on the water body. They will determine if any studies need to be completed, and will usually suggest a site visit to gain a better understanding of your site. The folks I spoke with in Vermont suggested collecting a year of flow data from your stream as a starting point to help make the determination of potential impact from “redirecting” the stream through your turbine.

You may have heard that the government agencies only have jurisdiction on “navigable waterways.” Common sense would indicate that most of the small streams in the hills of New England would not meet the “navigable waterway” definition; however, common sense is not making that determination. The federal government decides what constitutes a navigable waterway, and several court cases have led to the determination that almost any body of water is navigable. Therefore, any surface water that flows is subject to the state and federal laws governing their use.

So, if you are planning on developing a surface water resource to generate electricity, you might want to start by making a few phone calls to the local, state, and federal agencies that may have a stake in making your project feasible. If we can help in any way, please contact us.

Beginning of the 2011 installation season

We just completed our first PV installation for the 2011 season, a 2,300-watt grid-tie PV system. It was nice to get back to work like this, and we made the most of two kind-of sunny days to complete the installation. We got a bit of sunburn the first day, but it was cloudy enough to not be a problem on the second day.

We learned a few things on this installation. Working on a roof with little to no extra room around the edges is hard. We had to be extra careful when installing the last two modules, since we didn’t have much to stand on. But we got it done safely, and we think it looks pretty good. What do you think?