Hydropower Is On the Rise in the Ohio Valley
24 July 2016
By Casey Junkins, Business/Energy Writer
WHEELING –Enough new hydroelectricity to power up to 320,000 homes
will come online this year, while four new power plants are under
construction at dams along the Ohio River in West Virginia and
In 2014, American Municipal Power considered building a
hydroelectric power plant at the Pike Island Locks and Dam, but
eventually dropped the project. However, AMP officials opened
generating units at the Willow Island Lock and Dam in Pleasants
County, W.Va. earlier this year. The New Martinsville/Hannibal
Hydroelectric Plant has been in place since 1988.
“These facilities will help insulate us from future carbon
regulations and will be a long-term benefit for our members,” AMP
President and CEO Marc Gerken said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said projects are also
ongoing at Cannelton, Meldahl and Smithland in Kentucky. When
these are complete, the hydroelectricity generating capacity along
the Ohio River will grow from 313 megawatts to 554 megawatts.
“U.S. hydropower has the potential to grow significantly with only
3 percent of the nation’s existing dams equipped to generate
power,” National Hydropower Association Executive Director Linda
Church Ciocci said.
Administration officials also said 300 megawatts of electricity
generating capacity is supposed to enter service this year at dams
that previously had no hydropower plants. This constitutes the
vast majority of the 320 megawatts of hydroelectric power set to
come online in 2016.
Existing conventional hydroelectric generators in the United
States provided 251 million megawatt hours of electricity in 2015,
or about 6 percent of annual total net generation. Unlike other
forms of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, hydroelectric
capacity additions have been relatively modest in recent years,
the administration said.
Ciocci believes the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which
is now in a conference committee with both the U.S. Senate and the
House of Representatives, offers a promising future, however.
“Already the nation’s largest renewable electricity resource,
hydropower can undoubtedly play an even greater role in addressing
climate change and expanding our clean energy portfolio,” she
said. “Proceeding to a conference on the House and Senate versions
of the energy bill brings the nation one step closer to fully
realizing hydropower’s clean energy potential and its contribution
to a reliable and functioning electric grid system.”