Monday, March 1, 2010

City seeking injunction against hydropower company over flashboard height

According to The Sun Lowell is seeking an injunction against Enel North America, who runs the Boott Hydro Project on the Northern Canal.  The reason is they are apparently keeping the flashboards a foot higher than agreed to.  I had previously stated ( I wasn't going to weigh in on who is right here and who isn't out of not knowing enough to speak fairly*, but I do follow this stuff and Enel, to their credit, has a fairly lengthy report available on the situation.  Interesting to note:  The Wang Agreement, which is supposedly what Enel is their own document Enel argues they were never a party to it:

*Now, obviously if Enel is purposely keeping these boards too high, or worse, as some claim, strengthening the pins to make failure of the boards (dropping the river level) less likely, they should be punished.  And it sounds like that is precisely what is going on.  Enel's own write-up makes it clear the four-foot boards (with an extra foot as a separate board that fails very easily) is the historically correct option.  How greedy is the extra foot of head?  By the calculations I did in my earlier post, would cost the plant .4MW, or about 4% of its theoretical output.

That said, the floods in 2006 and 2007 were incredibly powerful acts of nature and Clay Pit Brook is extremely low-lying, as I also discussed a few weeks ago in that above post.  How much effect did a few extra inches on some plywood boards really have?  My guess is unless many of the boards really did completely fail to release, not much - yet that's exactly what some are claiming.

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