The Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioon has issued 35 preliminary permits to 4 companies to install electricity generating turbines in the Mississippi, Atachafalaya, and Red Rivers in Louisiana. The FERC permitting process takes about five years, which means the turbines will not start producing electricity for another two or three years. FERC will hold hearings in New Orleans this week to examine the impact of the turbines on fish, navigation, and the environment. Will the blades chew up fish? Will the turbines disrupt navigation? And, maintaining the navigation channel is the Corps primary responsibility on the river.
Free Flow Power, one of the companies, will complete a series of tests by October 2010 that will send fish “inject fish into a tube and through turbine blades at varying speeds. The tests begin in January.
Free Flow wants to install 180, 000 turbines, six feet in diameter, in the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans. The system of 26 locks and dams on the river north of Alton, Illinois have turned the Upper Mississippi into a series of pools, where there is not enough current to turn the turbines.
South of Alton, the Mississippi is a free flowing river that has been channelized. The Corps of Engineers has set wing dams or dikes in the river perpendicular from the bank to speed the current and direct it to the navigation channel, which is at least nine feet deep. In short the river south of Alton runs fast and deep, a good place for turbines. Click on my April 29 post for more information.
The river bends in a deep horseshoe at Plaquemine, Louisiana, the possible site for turbines.
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