FERC issues license for 57-MW Newburgh hydro project on Ohio River

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 22 granted an April 2011 application from Newburgh Hydro LLC for an original license to construct, operate, and maintain the Newburgh Lock and Dam Hydroelectric Project, to be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Newburgh Locks and Dam on the Ohio River, near the Town of Newburgh in Warrick County, Indiana, and Henderson County, Kentucky.

The project will occupy 64.2 acres of federal land administered by the Corps. The project’s authorized capacity being licensed is 56.7 MW.

The existing Newburgh Locks and Dam consists of a 2,275.5-foot-long dam with a spillway section that includes nine 110-foot-wide Tainter gates and a 1,120-foot-long overflow weir structure located on the south side of the river beyond the end of the gate structure. The main and auxiliary locks are on the Indiana side of the river. The main lock is 110 feet wide by 1,200 feet long and the auxiliary lock is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long.

The Corps operates Newburgh Locks and Dam in a run-of-river mode to maintain a minimum pool in the Ohio River for navigational purposes. The Corps maintains the water surface elevation in the impoundment at 358.0 feet above mean sea level (msl) by adjusting the Tainter gates to release water at the same rate it enters the impoundment.

The project will consist of these new facilities to be constructed at the dam’s southern abutment on the Kentucky bank of the river:

  • an 800-foot-long forebay;
  • a 215-foot-long, 167-foot-wide submersible, concrete powerhouse containing three Kaplan turbine-generators, each with an installed capacity of 18.9 MW, for a total capacity of 56.7 MW;
  • a 144-foot-long, 69-foot-high trash rack, with 6-inch openings to be installed at the powerhouse intake;
  • a 1,500-foot-long tailrace with a submerged dike to be located at approximately the midpoint of the tailrace;
  • a 3.46-mile-long, 138-kV transmission line; and
  • a switchyard.

The average annual generation of the proposed project is estimated to be 169,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). The project will operate in a run-of-release mode within the constraints of the Corps’ operating procedures. The project will be able to generate when the Corps’ flow releases are between 2,700 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 49,800 cfs, with all flows in this range passing through the project’s powerhouse. At flows less than 2,700 cfs, the project will not operate and all flow will pass through the Corps’ Tainter gates. At flows greater than 49,800 cfs, the project will continue to operate and all excess flow will pass through the Corps’ gates. During high flow periods, the project will continue operating until the project’s net head is less than six feet (which happens at approximately 160,000 cfs), at which point the powerhouse will be shut down and all flow will pass through the Corps’ facilities.

Section 6 of the Federal Power Act provides that original licenses for hydropower projects must be issued for a period not to exceed 50 years. It is Commission policy to issue a 50-year license for a project located at a federal dam. Accordingly, this license is issued for a term of 50 years.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.