Grant Lake Hydroelectric Project

Natural Resources
Licensing/relicensing, Alternatives analysis/feasibility study, Conceptual design, Engineering services, Environmental/permitting
Professional services
Homer, AK
Homer Electric Association
Alaska Electric & Energy Cooperative
why it matters

Through proactive planning, a highly effective strategy, and robust logistical considerations, McMillen’s team secured an original Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for a complex new hydroelectric project in a remote area of Alaska. Under this license, the Grant Lake Hydroelectric project will deliver 5 MW of power, substantially reducing the Alaskan Railbelt’s dependence on fossil fuels.

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For nearly 15 years, McMillen has represented Homer Electric as the lead licensing consultant responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of their FERC licensing program. We guided our client through the Traditional Licensing Process and led the regulatory, natural resources, and engineering programs that ultimately resulted in the issuance of an original license in 2019. Upon license issuance, we were immediately retained and are currently assisting Homer Electric with compliance and implementation efforts including regulatory, natural resources, design and engineering, out-year planning, permitting, integration with FERC compliance representatives, planning for the design and construction phases, and overall advisory and strategic support. To date, our responsibilities have included:

Natural resources study program development, including:

  • Aquatics and fisheries
  • Water resources and potential operations
  • Terrestrial
  • Cultural and historic resources
  • Recreation, visual, and aesthetics
  • Site topographic and bathymetric mapping
  • Geotechnical site assessment and preliminary foundation design
  • Detailed hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of the proposed intake structure, reservoir management, and instream temperature analysis
  • Water quality, water balance, and instream flow studies to determine the size of withdrawal and location of withdrawal in the lake column
  • Design of a withdrawal intake to pull water from the upper five feet of the lake to meet downstream temperature standards for anadromous fish rearing within Grant Creek
  • Development of an extensive geographic information system database that links all results spatially
  • Alternative analysis for weir placement, powerhouse size, and penstock and tunnel arrangements
  • Operation and generation analysis
  • Cost estimates and project schedules
  • Consideration of construction methodology
  • Feasibility analysis and preliminary design
  • Strategic regulatory support including preliminary permit acquisition, public outreach, external stakeholder communications, management of the public record, and development and maintenance of a project website
  • Consultation and development of all requisite FERC documents including draft and final license applications, preliminary permits, Pre-Application Documents, all study plans and reports, consultation records, and more
  • Coordination and meeting facilitation with all stakeholders 

All phases of license development required close collaboration with local, state, and federal stakeholders. Steady leadership, technical project understanding, and consistent communication were keys to a successful process. Our established relationships with key agencies such as FERC, United States Forest Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowed us to keep the licensing timeline on track despite vigorous regulatory and natural resource requirements. 

Once completed, the Grant Lake Hydroelectric project will feature a new 5 MW powerhouse, a substation, 1.5 miles of transmission line, construction of over 2.5 miles of new roads, a new bridge, 150 feet of penstock, and a 3,200-foot hydraulic tunnel.

“McMillen guided us through the long and arduous process of successfully obtaining an original 40-year FERC License for our Grant Lake Hydroelectric Project. During a professional relationship that has spanned a decade’s worth of licensing, license compliance, and feasibility analysis, McMillen has been exemplary in the services they provide and have consistently remained within established budgets for the specified work scopes.”

Mike Salzetti

Manager of Fuel Supply & Renewable Energy Development, Homer Electric Association

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