One of the biggest energy debates in Boston these days is focused on how to best harness Canada’s vast reservoir of hydroelectric power and draw some of it here to meet this region’s needs.
But there’s a company in Boston that has quietly been working on its own hydroelectric projects — except these turbines won’t have much of an impact on New England’s energy grid.
FFP New Hydro just announced the closing of a major loan with Crestline Investors Inc. of Texas that will enable the firm to move a portfolio of 21 hydropower projects into the next stage of development. Connected to the transaction, FFP New Hydro acquired its management firm, Rye Development of Boston. FFP New Hydro declined to disclose the size of the loan.
FFP New Hydro’s portfolio includes more than 200 megawatts of new generation capacity in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Mississippi, and Ohio. (Given their location, none of these projects are tied directly into New England’s electric grid.)
Naynika Chaubey, an investment associate at parent company US Renewables Group, said all of these projects are being built on existing dams that don’t yet have electricity generating capability. With this loan, construction is on schedule to start as soon as late 2016, and all of the projects should be built by the end of 2018, she said. Only one has a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval so far.
“These are existing dams that have been around for decades and have operated for municipal and flood control purposes,” Chaubey said. “Now we’re ... retrofitting [the] existing dams for electricity generation. There’s very little impact compared to brand new dam construction.”
FFP New Hydro employs a half-dozen people at 845 Atlantic Ave. in Boston, Rye Development’s former address. FFP New Hydro was originally set up about five years ago as a joint venture between California-based US Renewables Group and Boston’s Free Flow Power, Chaubey said.
“We saw a significant opportunity in what was essentially a pretty young market to buy these projects at a fairly early stage and take them through the development process,” Chaubey said.
Chaubey said Free Flow Power is no longer a partner in FFP New Hydro; US Renewables is the majority owner, she said, with other investors.
She declined to discuss the status of Free Flow Power, a startup that had specialized in developing hydroelectric projects. Free Flow Power’s office number is no longer in service and many of the principals now work at other firms.