Hydropower Re-Licensing and the Environment: An Analysis of the Timing and Total Quantity of Electricity Generation
Powers, Kyna Lynn, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review
Master's Thesis Award of Merit
In less than 10 years, 220 dams representing 20% of U.S. hydropower capacity will undergo re-licensing. Throughout the duration of their original licenses, these facilities were operated with little attempt to mitigate their negative effect on fish and recreation. Following re-licensing, however, new hydropower licenses will likely contain provisions designed to increase recreational opportunities and to improve fish habitat and fish passage. Therefore, the motivation behind this work is to assess whether and to what extent there is a tradeoff between environmental improvements and hydropower production.
While most previous work on this subject has focused on large multipurpose dams that are causing significant declines in fish population, this earlier research may not apply to smaller hydropower plants. To expand our understanding of the energy/environment tradeoff, this thesis focuses on the re-licensing provisions of smaller hydraulically linked facilities. Specifically, this work examines the re-licensing provisions for 14 dams on New York's Raquette River, namely minimum flow requirements, reservoir elevation requirements, and turbine upgrades.
To assess how re-licensing will alter the timing and total quantity of hydropower production, this thesis examines hydropower production decisions before and after re-licensing. Using the dams on the Raquette River as a case study, a nonlinear model is developed to simulate the facilities' hydraulic linkages, physical parameters, and the license-based requirements. …