Thursday, February 2, 2012

American Municipal Power Goes Hydro

American Municipal Power (AMP), an Ohio-based wholesale supplier of power to municipal electric systems loves hydropower and a Pennsylvania company is reaping some of the benefits.

AMP is building four hydropower projects on the Ohio River, totaling 300 MW of installed capacity, that it plans to sell to customers in seven different states.  Although hydro’s share of the U.S. power market has been in general decline, AMP likes hydro because of its output reliability with capacity factors of 55-60%.

In 1997, conventional hydropower provided about 10% of net U.S. electricity generation.  By the end of 2011, the percentage of hydro dropped to under 8% of net generation, as total net generation rose by 7%.   In Pennsylvania, conventional hydropower generation increased by about 29% between 2010 and 2011, owing perhaps to last year’s record rainfalls in parts of the state.

Environmental impacts of these projects have been minimized because they will be cited on existing Army Corps of Engineers dams, avoiding the need to build new dams that can wreak havoc on local marine and land ecosystems.

AMP signed a $300 million contract with the York, PA based Voith Hydro to manufacturer the turbines and generators for the four projects.

The four projects, which have been in the works since 2006, are expected to be complete between 2014 and 2015:
  • Cannelton (84 MW) near Hawesville, KY
  • Meldahl (105 MW) near Foster, KY
  • Smithland (72 MW) near Smithland, KY
  • Willow Island (35 MW) near Pleasants County W. Va

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