Pike Island hydro plant permit pulled

YORKVILLE – Citing both a lack of demand as well as other ongoing projects, American Municipal Power will not build a hydroelectric power plant at the Pike Island Locks and Dam.

Had it been built on the western side of the dam, the plant would have generated 256,000 megawatt-hours of renewable power per day for use in AMP participating Ohio municipalities.

“We have four other hydropower projects ongoing. We just don’t have a need for this one,” said Kent Carson, spokesman for Columbus, Ohio-based AMP, adding the closest of these projects to the Upper Ohio Valley will be at the the Willow Island Locks and Dam near St. Marys, W.Va.

AMP also operates the New Martinsville Hydroelectric Plant at the Hannibal Locks and Dam, which began generating power in 1988.

In October, Boston-based Free Flow Power Project submitted a competing proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, both AMP and Free Flow eventually withdrew their applications.

In place since 1963, the Pike Island Locks and Dam spans the Ohio River just north of the Warwood section of Wheeling on the West Virginia side and Yorkville on the Ohio side. Although West Virginia has jurisdiction over the Ohio River, the dam falls under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Steve Dupee, utility director for the city of Oberlin, said Oberlin is one of several cities listed as members of AMP. St. Clairsville and Woodsfield also are classified as AMP members.

“When you consider the cost of development, it is just not worth the investment right now,” Dupee said of a hydroplant at Pike Island. “From Oberlin’s perspective, we don’t need any additional power supply.”

However, Dupee said it may make sense for someone to eventually build a plant at Pike Island, depending upon market conditions. Carson said he was unaware if any other company may be interested in building the plant at this time.

“It seems like it would be a good project, so someone else may look at it,” Carson said.