St. Marys, WV: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was the keynote speaker as American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP) celebrated the latest ground breaking in AMP’s development of run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects on the Ohio River. The project, being built at the Willow Island Locks and Dam, will add 35 MW of new, renewable generation to the region.
AMP is currently undertaking the largest development of new run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation in the country. Up to six projects are being developed at existing dams on the Ohio River. Four projects are fully subscribed to AMP member communities and are now under construction. Combined, the projects now under construction will add 300 MW of renewable generation capacity, and are creating jobs and economic development in the region. The Willow Island Hydroelectric Plant is being developed on behalf of 79 AMP member communities in the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan participating in the project.
AMP’s hydroelectric generation development efforts build on the success of the Belleville Hydroelectric Plant, operating on the Ohio River at the Belleville Locks and Dams, near Belleville, West Virginia. Built by AMP and owned by a joint venture of AMP member communities, the Belleville Hydroelectric Plant began commercial operation in 1999. The facility has exceeded projections in terms of energy generation and cost of power, and plant operators have been recognized nationally for the safe and efficient plant management.
“The aggressive hydroelectric generation development being undertaken by AMP is designed to help our member communities diversify their power supply portfolio and increase their use of renewable generation,” AMP President/CEO Marc Gerken said. “The anticipated life of these projects means that generations to come will benefit from what we’re doing today. It is a large part of a coordinated effort to reduce our members’ dependence on the wholesale market and create balanced power supply at predictable costs. At the same time, this development effort is creating jobs and economic development in the region.”
The more than $300 million Willow Island project will employ 200-400 construction workers and provide seven to nine permanent operating positions. The project is expected to begin generating power in late 2014.
AMP’s hydroelectric project development is providing a significant boost to the economic well-being of the region. AMP signed a contract with York, Pennsylvania-based Voith Hydro for the manufacture of turbines and generators for the first four facilities. The more than $420 million contract was the largest executed to date by Voith. To help fulfill the contract, Voith opened a manufacturing facility in Hannibal, Ohio creating approximately 50 new jobs.
In addition to the Willow Island project, AMP is constructing facilities at the Meldahl, Cannelton, and Smithland dams. Construction started in July 2009 on the Cannelton project and in July 2010 on the Smithland project, and May 2010 on the Meldahl project, which AMP is developing in partnership with the member community of Hamilton, Ohio. Two other potential projects at the R.C. Byrd and Pike Island dams are currently in the licensing phase with license applications pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“This is obviously a large undertaking,” Gerken said. “However, the Ohio River dams represent a valuable, largely untapped resource of renewable power. We’re proud of these projects and glad to be starting construction on the fourth facility. Our members are committed to providing a cleaner, safer, healthier and stable power supply portfolio to their customer/owners.”
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