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Utility Explores Option of Using Dam for Electricity

A power utility is considering using a Dubuque dam to generate electricity, part of a nationwide move toward use of renewable energy.

Thu September 24, 2015 - Midwest Edition
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) A power utility is considering using a Dubuque dam to generate electricity, part of a nationwide move toward use of renewable energy.

Energy Resources USA Inc. has applied for a preliminary permit to build a hydropower plant at Lock and Dam No. 11 on the Mississippi River, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported Sept 5.

The proposed 19,800-sq.-ft. plant would produce 119,655 megawatt-hours per year — enough to power 10,000 to 11,000 homes.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Celeste Miller said the permit would give the company the right to explore for three years the feasibility of developing the plant. It would not authorize construction or operations. The commission oversees hydroelectric projects in the United States and is the entity that will consider the permit application, Miller said.

The city of Dubuque and residents have 60 days from Aug. 20 to submit comments on the application, motions to intervene or competing applications.

“We are asking council be aware of it,’’ Assistant City Manager Teri Goodmann said. “Staff will do research on our response and will bring that back to council for their approval.’’

Comments on the application may be submitted at .

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States, providing about 7 percent of the nation’s power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But of about 80,000 dams in the United States, only 3 percent have hydropower equipment.

Development of hydroelectric power stagnated in the 1980s. But the size of the country’s hydropower fleet has grown over the past decade. At least $6 billion has been invested in refurbishments, replacements and upgrades to U.S. hydropower plants, the Energy Department’s Web site said.

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