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Assessment of Fish and Wildlife Presence Near Two River Instream Energy Conversion Devices in the Kvichak River, Alaska in 2014

Study Status: 
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Matthew Nemeth 

Project Description: 

Two river instream conversion (RISEC) devices were operated underwater on the Kvichak River, near the village of Igiugig, Alaska, during a demonstration period in 2014. The ultimate goal of the demonstration was to test the efficiency and feasibility of the devices and gather information in preparation for a 5-year pilot license application to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Permission to operate the devices in 2014 required a Fish Habitat Permit (a “Title 16” permit) from the State of Alaska, Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), granting permission for project activities in anadromous streams (AS 16.05.841-71). For the Title 16 permit, a monitoring plan (LGL 2014) was developed in consultation with ADF&G before deployment, to monitor fish and protect their passage. Although fish were the focus of the monitoring plan, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife were also monitored near the devices.


The two RISEC devices monitored in 2014 were the RivGEN Power System manufactured by the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC; Portland ME) and the BRI Cyclo-Turbine™ manufactured by Boschma Research Inc. (BRI; Brownsboro AL).

Funding Source: 

Funding for this fish and wildlife monitoring study was provided by the Alaska Energy Authority.

Location of Research: 

Kvichak River, Iguigig, AK, USA

Project Aims: 
  1. Document and classify any encounters of fish and wildlife with two RISEC devices.
  2. Describe behavioral responses to any encounters with the devices, as well as subsequent effects on any fish or wildlife.
  3. Assess whether the devices visibly alter in-stream habitat nearby.
  4. Evaluate the viability of an underwater camera system to monitor fish at the devices.
Project Progress: 


Key Findings: 

There were no detections of fish contact with the ORPC turbine and no evidence of passage delay at the site in 2014. One lamprey was observed passing through the BRI turbine but contacts and effects could not be determined. No adverse effects on fish were observed at the BRI turbine. Out of 20 possible contacts with the ORPC turbine in 2015, none had confirmed contact with the turbine and only one adult salmonid had confirmed contact with the camera. These results suggest that fish strike or collision with turbine is very rare.

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