Hydropower's Newest Generation

by Howard Smallowitz, Asst. News Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, 345 East 47th St., New York, N.Y. 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1985, Vol. 55, Issue 8, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


Higher energy prices and strong incentives from the federal government have caused hydropower developers to consider sites that just a few years ago were scoffed at as mere trickles. Intense regulation is still considered a problem to developers, however, a number of projects of all sizes are coming closer to being realities. A project on Alaska's Susitna River should begin producing power by 1997, and will be expanded in stages to its full capacity of 1020 Mw by 2008. It is perhaps the last huge hydro project being planned in the U.S. The 22.5 Mw Swan Lake project already is supplying power to the small, electrically isolated town of Ketchikan. Developers are finishing the Eldred L. Field hydroelectric project, a 15 Mw addition to the historic canals which once powered the industrial revolution in Lowell, Mass. The economics of hydropower have changed so radically, that the owners of an abandoned dam and powerhouse in Bumcombe County, N.C. are bringing the site out of retirement. However, the $7 million renovation of the 2.4 Mw plant has been delayed by state and federal environmental agencies. In Jersey City, N.J. planners hope to tap the energy generated when the city's tap water flows from a reservoir into an aqueduct.

Subject Headings: Federal government | Hydro power | Electric power | Urban areas | Pricing | Rivers and streams | Lakes | Canals

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