Building and Construction

AMP Completes $3bn Ohio River Hydro Projects

07 September 2017

A decade-long project to build four hydroelectric power plants at existing locks and dams on the Ohio River is complete, says Ohio-based American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP), which spearheaded the $3 billion project.

One of the largest hydropower development efforts in the United States, the projects include more than 300 MW of renewable generating capacity for 83 participating AMP member systems across five states. The projects consist of 11 separate hydro turbines. The development effort took 10 years including licensing, permitting and construction.

Willow Island plant (on left side of dam) in 2015. Credit: AMPWillow Island plant (on left side of dam) in 2015. Credit: AMPThe hydropower projects include the Smithland plant, the Cannelton plant and the Willow Island plant, along with the Meldahl plant. AMP developed the Meldahl plant in partnership with AMP member, the City of Hamilton, Ohio. Combined, the projects employ more than 35 full-time operators.

A 2016 Energy Department report finds that U.S. hydropower could grow from 101 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to nearly 150 GW by 2050. Growth would result from a combination of 13 GW of new hydropower generation capacity (upgrades to existing plants, adding power at existing dams and canals, and limited development of new stream-reaches), and 36 GW of new pumped storage capacity.

Cannelton

The Cannelton Project diverts water from an existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cannelton Locks and Dam through bulb turbines and is anticipated to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 458 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The site includes an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse contains three horizontal 29.3-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 88 MW at a gross head of 25 feet. A 1,000-ft-long 138-kV transmission line interconnection connects the facility to regional grid operator MISO.

Excavation and cofferdam construction began in 2010 and powerhouse construction began in 2011. The plant reached full commercial operation in June 2016.

Smithland

The Smithland Project will divert water from the existing Corps Smithland Locks and Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 379 million kWh. The site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel.

Inspecting Mehldahl Unit 1 bearing. Credit: AMPInspecting Mehldahl Unit 1 bearing. Credit: AMPThe powerhouse will house three horizontal 25.3-MW bulb-type turbines and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 76 MW at a gross head of 22 feet. A two-mile-long 161-kV transmission line interconnection connects to MISO.

Willow Island

The Willow Island Project diverts water from the existing Corps Willow Island Locks and Dam through bulb turbines and is anticipated to generate an average annual gross output of approximately 239 million kWh. The site includes an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse houses two horizontal 22-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 44 MW at a gross head of 20 feet. A 1.6-mile-long 138-kV transmission line interconnection connects the facility to PJM.

Excavation and cofferdam construction started in June 2011 and powerhouse construction began in December 2012. The plant reached full commercial operational in February 2016.

Meldahl/Greenup Hydroelectric Project

The Meldahl/Greenup projects include the 105 MW run-of-the-river hydroelectric generating facility at the Captain Anthony Meldahl Dam on the Ohio River and the run-of-the-river hydroelectric generating facility at the Greenup Dam, also on the Ohio River.

Installing re-steel around Unit-3 tailrace at Cannelton in 2012. Credit: AMPInstalling re-steel around Unit-3 tailrace at Cannelton in 2012. Credit: AMPAMP owns the Meldahl project and developed it with the member community of Hamilton, Ohio, which originally procured the development license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Hamilton retains the rights for a 51.4 percent share of the energy output from the facility, with AMP taking the remaining output for 47 other AMP members participating in the project.

The Meldahl Project diverts water from the existing Corps Meldahl Locks and Dam through bulb turbines anticipated to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 558 million kWh. The site includes an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse contains three horizontal 35-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with a rated capacity of 105 MW at a gross head of 30 feet.

Excavation and cofferdam construction began in 2010 and powerhouse construction began in August 2011. The plant reached full commercial operation in April 2016.

To contact the author of this article, email david.wagman@ieeeglobalspec.com


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