Natel Energy is to develop, finance and construct three non-powered dam sites along Louisiana’s Red River in partnership with Nelson Energy – with plans to install between 60 and 90 of its Restoration Hydro Turbine's (RHT) to retrofit the three existing dams and add 80MW of renewable power to the grid.

Nelson Energy, a Minneapolis-based firm that has successfully developed and licensed over $250 million of hydroelectric projects in the US, will act as an advisory partner on the project.

“Nelson Energy’s hydroelectric development goals have been to identify projects, establish their feasibility, obtain a FERC license and to then find a partner to carry the project forward through design, financing, construction and operation,” said Doug Spaulding, president of Nelson Energy. “Nelson has teamed with Natel based on their demonstrated experience and staffing to move projects from a licensed concept to an operational project.”

Natel will install up to 30 of its fish-safe RHTs at each of the Red River Lock & Dam sites 3, 4 and 5. Two of the projects will connect to points within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Transmission System and one project with the Southwest Power Pool. The projects have been licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and are expected to be built in 2024 and 2025.

“The Red River Projects mark a major addition to our Energy Platform development portfolio – an effort that Natel is undertaking to scale deployment of our Restoration Hydro Turbines and digital forecasting tools to advance the potential of modern, sustainable hydropower, enabling a climate-resilient future,” said Gia Schneider, CEO and co-founder of Natel. “We are excited to partner with Nelson Energy – one of the leading firms in advancing hydropower projects from concept to licensing.”

Nelson Energy laid a foundation by obtaining the FERC licenses and completing initial project diligence for Natel to expedite retrofitting the existing dams on a timeline that can bring clean, renewable energy to the grid more quickly, in an expansion of Natel’s Energy Platform development portfolio. 

The Red River project builds off of the success of Natel’s Monroe Hydro Project in Madras, Oregon, which demonstrates how Natel’s sustainable RHT technology can be integrated with existing water infrastructure. The RHT’s direct-drive, low-head, modular design is an ideal fit for the Red River Project’s three existing Army Corps of Engineers lock & dam sites with drop heights between 25-31ft.