An Alabama company has filed a permit to explore a project on Little Pine Creek to adapt a dam to produce electricity.
Hydro Friends of Birmingham, Alabama, filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to Wayne Krouse, applicant for the company.
The application is for a permit to study the potential of the Little Pine Creek as a power source for the plant location, he said in a telephone interview with the Sun-Gazette Thursday.
On the federal site, the permit said the project calls for two turbine units, a transformer and transmission lines.
It is a type of hydro-electric power project, to be located on land owned by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Krouse said.
The permit allows the company to file a license during the term of the permit or 30 to 60 days, he said
It does not permit any land disturbances, he said.
The hydroelectric technology is not new and has been around for about a century, Krouse noted.
The source of the power comes from the water turning the turbine propellers, according to the United State Geological Survey.
As the turbine spins, it turns an electric generator. The generator is a motor that produces electricity.
“We are working on a project at Braddock, near Pittsburgh, on the Monongahela River, which has a license from the federal government,” Krouse said.
The company has focused on projects in Pennsylvania, he said, because it has a generous supply of dams, reservoirs and water sources.
“It is a very pro-hydro state,” he said.
The company has filed permits for Little Pine Creek and 13 other
projects in the state, he said.
The process does not happen overnight. The company first applies for and receives the permits, which then allows its staff to get information to determine if the project is technically and economically feasible, Krouse said.
“We think they are and that is why we filed the permits,” he said.
The hydro-energy project is envisioned and designed to cause no negative impact on the use of the existing flow of water through the dam, Krouse said.
As the company establishes a base in Pennsylvania, it will continue to complete the projects, which means hiring employees to operate, maintain and administrate the projects, Krouse said.
If the federal government issues a permit it is good for 36 to 48 months. The priority then will be for the company to file a license to build, he said.
Krouse assured those interested that public stakeholder outreach will occur and there will be meetings for people to ask questions and to hear more.
“We don’t envision issues with the state,” he said.
There are other companies in other states that have done projects on state-owned dams, he said.
The best case scenario for the company is to be completed with construction in three to four years but it could be put on a fast track if regulatory requirements change, he said.
The projects are operable for about 40 years. The electricity would be transmitted on lines near the dam.
“We will then try to sell the electricity to a utility or municipality,” Krouse said.
The design of the turbine itself is old style and has been around 100 years as has generators, he said.
Equipment will be off the shelf and top manufacturers, he said.
Part of the job for the company will be working to understand from the state the lake flow and maximum levels.
The company said it will design a system with no impact on operation of the dam during floods.
Krouse said the business has not reached out to county personnel.
“Nothing has come back to our office,” said Fran McJunkin, deputy planning director at the Lycoming County Department of Planning and Community Development.