Pike Island hydro powerhouse still possible

YORKVILLE – A hydroelectric power plant once again is a possibility for the Pike Island Lock and Dam Facility, located on the Ohio River just north of Yorkville.

On April 4, Pike Island Energy LLC filed a project operations compliance report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a study to determine the feasibility of building a hydroelectric plant at Pike Island. The original preliminary permit application was filed on Feb. 21.

If the FERC issues the preliminary permit, Pike Island Energy would hold the right to investigate the possibility of a hydroelectric power plant. If it is decided the plant is feasible, Pike Island Energy then could apply to build it. It is not clear how long the FERC could take to make a decision.

The permit and licensing process also allows for opportunities for stakeholders and citizens to voice input. Comments concerning the application can be sent to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20426.

The application for a permit can be viewed at elibrary.ferc.gov/IDMWS/search/fercgensearch.asp.

Pike Island Energy’s entry for permit reveals the company could build three 7,800-foot long phase overhead transmission lines between the project’s turbine generators and an existing substation in Tiltonsville. The new transmission line would run from the project powerhouse on the west side of the river parallel to state Route 7. No access roads would be required for construction.

Pike Island Energy is not the only company that has filed with FERC. On March 26, Bedford Energy Associates LLC, also put in an application concerning the Pike Island Hydroelectric Project.

Pike Island Energy was created as part of American River Power and Light, a private developer of community-scale hydroelectric power plants. The new entity is headed up by CEO and Managing Director Alan Skelly, who said a Pike Island hydroelectric project seems sensible.

“I think this would be very positive for the region, and for the potential future customers down the road because it is clean energy,” he said.

“We are looking forward to getting a chance to meet with people from the area and getting their input, and moving through this process as fast as we can. We think this could be licensed rather quickly. We think this has a positive momentum.”

Skelly also said the project could produce more jobs and economic development for the area.

Hydroelectricity has been a distant possibility for the Pike Island Dam for several months. At one time, American Municipal Power and Boston-based Free Flow Power Project submitted competing proposals to FERC. However, both eventually withdrew from the project in February of this year. An AMP spokesperson said the company already had four hydroelectric projects ongoing, nullifying any demand for another.

AMP’s bid for a hydroelectric power plant estimated that 256,000 megawatt-hours of renewable power could be generated per day.

Hydroelectricity refers to the production of electrical power through gravitational force of flowing water. It accounts for 16 percent of electricity generation worldwide and is the most popular source for renewable energy.