Corps approves pact to advance 92-MW Price Dam on Mississippi

The Corps of Engineers announced March 21 it completed a legal agreement allowing a developer to proceed with design of the 92-MW Price Dam hydroelectric project at a Corps navigation dam on the Mississippi River near Alton, Ill.

The Corps’ St. Louis District said the agreement allows hydropower licensee, Price Dam Partnership Ltd., to proceed with detailed investigation, design, and, if feasible, construction of a hydro plant at Melvin Price Locks and Dam.

The project’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license (No. 12187) required the licensee to reach the agreement with the Corps to coordinate access and construction activities, while protecting federal operations and activities, primarily in support of Mississippi River navigation.

The agreement, to be filed with FERC by April 21, outlines terms and conditions under which studies and construction activities may occur. It also provides a small amount of project power to the Corps facility at no cost.

As licensed, the project would be built in six tainter gates and atop the dam. It would include 192 modular Hydromatrix turbine-generators in six modules. Each module would be designed for easy lifting to reduce damage during floods, to allow unit repair, and to permit the Corps to meet flood and navigation responsibilities.

However, licensee spokesman James Price told HydroNews.net that Price Dam Partnership would review whether to proceed with its plans to use Hydromatrix turbines, or to switch to conventional turbines. He said project costs must be updated before a decision is made on how to approach construction. Previous cost projections ranged from $100 million to $150 million, he said.

Price added that the licensee still must secure a power purchaser.

FERC issued a license for the project in 2005. At that time, it set July 28, 2007, as the date construction must begin. However, the licensee can petition FERC to extend the construction start date.

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