Montco plans $30 million hydroelectric facility on Schuylkill

June 10 – Montgomery County gave a “jump start” to its long-awaited utilization plan Schuylkill as a renewable energy source.

In April, officials asked the federal government for permission to install four turbines at the plant Norristown Dam that could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of thousands of homes. However, the county plans to use most of the energy to power county-owned buildings, including a six-story, 325,000-square-foot justice center being built in Norristown.

Neil Makhijavice president for Montgomery County Board of Commissionerssaid the universal flood Bridgeport during the devastating remnants of Hurricane Ida in 2021 was a wake-up call to move more quickly away from burning fossil fuels that scientists say are causing climate change.

“I think our goal at the local, regional and state level is to inspire others to pursue clean energy transition opportunities within themselves,” Makhija said. “We are also finding ways to educate our residents about local climate impacts.”

The district authorities presented a presentation to the audience entitled: Bridgeport last week.

A dream for 20 years

Norristown Dam It was originally built of wood in the early 19th century as part of a canal system. Montgomery County took ownership of the dam from Peco in 1992. The dam was covered with metal and concrete in 1994. The fish ladder was completed in 2008.

The idea of ​​building a hydroelectric power plant on the dam was rejected for two decades, but gained solid ground in 2012, when US Department of Energy Oakridge National Laboratory identified an 869-foot-long, 12-foot-high dam as a potential location for a hydroelectric power plant. Hydropower is considered one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. An updated study of the dam site in 2023 found that hydropower technology has improved even further since then.

In April, county officials worked with a consultant Alden Laboratoriesused to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to exempt from licensing projects of less than 10 megawatts. While it may take three to five years to process an application, it will still be faster and cheaper than applying for a traditional permit, officials say.

The county will continue to investigate potential impacts to water quality, some fish species and wildlife. If FERC grants the exemption, the district will look for a private partner to build a hydroelectric power plant.

Application to FERC calls for a project that would produce approximately 7,300 megawatt hours per year, enough to power 3,000 homes.

Dam, also called the so-called Dam on Szwedzka StreetIt’s nearby Route 202 and lies 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Includes Schuylkill between Norristown AND Bridgeport. The fish ladder was built in 2008 on ul Bridgeport sides to help migrating fish move upstream.

How it would be built

The district project calls for the construction of four underwater turbine generators near the fish ladder. According to documents submitted, the plans envisage dismantling approximately 30 meters of the existing dam and replacing it with a reinforced concrete and steel structure. FERC. Each turbine would have its own concrete bay. Protection against dumping of garbage and logs would be provided. The fish ladder entrance will be extended approximately 40 feet.

Electricity generated at the dam could be fed into the local grid via an existing parking lot lighting pole and would require the installation of a single transformer.

By 2026, the district should be able to decide whether it will continue to develop the hydroelectric plant. It could be operational by 2028.

Makhija exclaimed FERC application for a “quick start” of the project. But he said the key impetus is the federal Inflation Control Act and other energy programs that will make the hydroelectric project, estimated at 30 million dollars, much cheaper. The county plans to apply for grants and use other incentives to finance them, such as renewable energy loans.

“We have found a path that is fundamentally feasible and economically viable,” Makhija said. “We are able to make progress in a way that makes sense and will help us achieve clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”


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