Energy Letter Approved
Residents wary on hydroelectric plant proposal
Morgantown Dominion Post
17 January 2014
By Ben Conley
Morgantown City Council chambers was nearly full Thursday evening
during a special meeting to consider a letter addressing the
city’s concerns about a proposed hydroelectric power plant next to
the Morgantown Lock and Dam.
Council unanimously approved the letter’s delivery to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the permitting body for the
project proposed by Boston-based Free Flow Power.
The letter lays out five major concerns with the power plant: Its
potential impact to the rail-trail, any odor, light or noise
created due to the proximity to residential areas, the potential
financial impact on the Wharf District, the visual impact on a
major city gateway and the number of power lines that would run to
A handful of residents spoke during the public comment portion of
the meeting, mostly touching on particular points in the city’s
In the letter, City Manager Jeff Mikorski points out that the
closest homes are within 500 feet of the proposed site of the
Tom Sal’s Callen Avenue home would overlook the new facility.
“I have lived at 514 Callen Avenue for 40 years. I raised my
children there. Right down the street from me, on Callen Avenue,
my daughter and her husband and two children live. I am very, very
concerned, because I don’t really know anything about this,”
The letter also points out that, due to the deeds surrounding the
rail-trail property, the design submitted by Free Flow power has
the potential to impact the banked rail-trail corridor to the
point that CSX, a railroad company, could remove the city’s rights
to the property.
Ella Belling is the executive director of the Monongalia River
Trails Conservancy. She said the conservancy also plans to present
comments to the FERC.
“We have asked that Free Flow Power come back with a redesign that
does not use any of the rail-trail property,” Belling said. “Also
we have encouraged that the idea of a shutdown of the trail be not
allowed” at any time, including during the facilities
construction, should it be approved.
Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) General Manager Tim Ball said MUB
supported the city’s comments. He also stated that MUB was going
to submit comments stating, among other things, that MUB would
like to either partner with Free Flow Power or be a direct
customer should the project move forward.
Mikorski said that the previous city administration met with Free
Flow Power in 2012, but did not submit comments during a
subsequent comment period. Council Member Mike Fike said he was
curious as to why the city did not submit comments when other area
Council Member Ron Bane said the city not only failed to submit
comments, but council was never informed the project was taking
“I know as a council member during that period of time, we did not
know about this. I had no communication from the previous city
manager about this project. We had no idea what was going on,” he
said. “This is a huge project and the previous council did not
know this was going on.”
Like most of the public comments, council members voiced approval
of clean energy alternatives, but also noted the serious nature of
the city’s concerns.
Mikorski said that the special meeting was held in order to get
the city’s comments submitted ahead of next week’s deadline for
comment. He also assured council and the gathered public that the
process is still in the preliminary stages and that additional
opportunities for public comment will arise as Free Flow Power
continues to work toward FERC approval.
Mikorski agreed, at council’s request, to coordinate the city’s
letter with letters submitted by other entities, such as the
rail-trail conservancy, to ensure a consistent message.
UMRA's Comments submitted to FERC are on this website at