Clean power will be reaped from Smithland hydropower facility

Published Oct. 18, 2010

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithland Dam hydropower facility, took place Sept. 1 on the Kentucky side of the Smithland Locks and Dam near Brookport, Ill. The plant, built by American Municipal Power (AMP), will create 72,000 kilowatts with three generating units. The cofferdam is 25 percent complete.

“The construction of hydroelectric plants at Smithland Locks and Dam and three other sites along the Ohio River in Kentucky is an effort to diversify sources of power utilizing the renewable resource of the river,” said Ken Lamkin, hydropower coordinator. The amount of power generated from the Smithland hydropower facility will power approximately 25,000-30,000 homes per year, a city the size of Paducah, Ky.

Hydropower facilities in the district currently exist at McAlpine and Markland dams which were constructed in 1924-1925 and 1964-1967 respectively. Smithland is the second new project in the district. Cannelton was the fi rst hydropower project in nearly 45 years for the district. Cannelton creates 84,000 kilowatts with three generating units. Cannelton and Smithland are both currently under construction. Smithland is projected to be complete in the spring of 2014.

“Ultimately, the total navigation hydropower projects in the Louisville District will light up approximately 100,000 - 125,000 homes a year, the equivalent of a city the size of Evansville, Ind.,” Louisville District Commander Col. Keith Landry said.

Every Lock and Dam project from New Cumberland, West Va., to Smithland— which is the last high-lift lock, upstream of Lock and Dam 52—has an existing hydropower facility, a project in development or under serious consideration for hydropower, said Lamkin.

By providing clean hydropower that communities can use instead of coal, Smithland will offset nearly 700 million pounds of CO2 every year which is like taking 60,000 cars off the road. Together with Markland, McAlpine and Cannelton, the reduction in emissions will be equivalent to eliminating the pollution of a quarter million cars. The Smithland project team included Lamkin, regulatory section, and a multidiscipline team including USACE Engineering Research and Development and the Hydroelectric Design Center. This organization researches and assists to get these hydropower projects from paper, through the processes, to shovel ready.