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Hydro-plant construction will employ hundreds

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American Municipal Power breaks ground Wednesday on $416 million project

By The Staff

HAWESVILLE, Ky. - A hydroelectric project talked about for decades is under construction and could provide between 200 and 400 jobs as it takes shape on the Kentucky side of the Cannelton Locks and Dam.

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American Municipal Power Inc. broke ground Friday on its Cannelton Hydroelectric facility. The 84-megawatt hydroelectric plant is the first of five such plants under development by the organization at existing dams on the Ohio River.

The groundbreaking event featured Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Rep. Brett Guthrie, AMP President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Gerken and Col. Keith Landry of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Louisville District. Local and state officials, including Cannelton Mayor Smokey Graves and Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth, were also on hand.

Scheduled for completion in 2013, the $416 million project will employ require only 9-12 permanent operators once online but will generate hundreds of construction jobs.

Seventy-nine AMP member communities in five states are participating in the project.

AMP is the wholesale power supplier and services provider for 128 member municipal electric systems in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and West Virginia. Officials said the organization is embarking on an aggressive generation-asset development.

"AMP and our member communities are leaders in the deployment of renewable generation in the region," Gerken said. "Wind, hydroelectric and landfill gas are currently part of our generation portfolio. In this part of the country, it is clear that hydroelectric generation is superior to other renewable technologies. This ambitious project is the largest deployment of new run-of-the-river hydro in the country," Gerken said. "It will bring more than 350 megawatts of new, renewable generation into the region and will help make the Ohio River Valley a showcase for alternative energy sources. This project is very important to our members, but the benefits of this project do not end with the participating member communities. This project, and the four others under development, are bringing jobs and economic development to the region."

A hydroelectric generating station has been discussed at the locks and dam for years but only moved forward over the past couple of years.

American Municipal Power is also developing hydro projects at the Smithland, Meldahl, R.C. Byrd and Willow Island dams.