City Will Talk Turbines at a Special Meet
Power plant plan raising concerns
Morgantown Dominion Post
15 January 2014
By Ben Conley
A letter explaining the city’s concerns about a potential
hydroelectric power plant on the Monongahela River next to the
Morgantown Lock and Dam will be the focus of a special meeting of
the Morgantown City Council scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.
In 2011, Free Flow power began the lengthy process of getting the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval to put
power-producing turbines on the river’s Opekiska and Morgantown
As part of the process, area stakeholders have until Monday to
file comments with FERC.
A draft letter from City Manager Jeff Mikorski explains that city
administrators met with Free Flow Power in “early 2012,” but,
“Additional discussions were expected after that meeting that did
not occur ...”
Mikorski said the special meeting will be an opportunity for
council to shape the letter before it is submitted, and will
provide an opportunity for public comment on the topic.
Of concern to the city:
Property — The proposed location of the power plant would
affect the city’s rail-trail. The quitclaim deed giving the city
access to the land has a reversionary clause that requires the
land be preserved for future rail use and provide interim
Environmental impact — Due to the proximity to residential homes
and neighborhoods, Free Flow Power should provide information on
the amount of light, noise and odor such a plant produces, as well
as the environmental impact of its construction.
Economic impact — The city as well as private property owners and
developers have invested millions spurring development of the
Wharf District. The city is concerned the power plant will harm
Visual impact — The facility will be along a major access for
visitors to the city. There is concern that the power plant will
harm the visual appeal of the riverfront.
Power lines — The city asks that Free Flow Power make an effort to
reduce the impact of the power plant by burying any power lines
that are a part of this project.
Mikorski said it is too early to determine if these issues would
be deal breakers for the city.
“Free Flow Power still has quite a bit of work to do in the
approval process, and a large part of that deals with
environmental and recreational impact,” Mikorski said. “But these
are concerns, and we would need to see how they respond to them
While the city has some issues it needs cleared up, MUB General
Manager Tim Ball said he’s not only behind the project, but also
hopes MUB can be involved as a partner or direct customer.
“It’s a wonderful idea. It’s frustrating to know the amount of
energy passing through that dam everyday,” Ball said, adding that
MUB has “long toyed with the idea” of putting a hydroelectric
generator at the lock and dam.
“It’s a little frustrating that somebody beat us to the punch,” he
Ball explained that MUB would endorse the city’s comments and
“supplement them with our own.”