Berea College to build a second hydropower plant in Lee County

A new hydroelectric plant has been completed along the Kentucky River in Estill County and...
A new hydroelectric plant has been completed along the Kentucky River in Estill County and it’s the first in the nation using a new technology.(WKYT)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 3:46 PM EDT
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LEE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Berea College is partnering with Appalachian Hydro Associates to build a second hydropower plant in Lee County.

The new plant will be at Lock and Dam 14 near Heidelberg.

Lock 14 was originally built and used for traveling, but it was abandoned in the mid-1990s.

The dam is currently used for water supply and to maintain the river for recreational use.

Last year, Berea College became the first higher education institution in the country to complete construction of a hydropower plant.

This plant, called the Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station, is located at Lock 12 on the Kentucky River near Ravenna.

In January, the Berea College Board of Trustees gave the green light for the second project.

“As the Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station project matured, and as we started to receive returns on our investment, our Board of Trustees permitted us to proceed with this second project,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “I like to say that every molecule of water will work twice for us once we get the second project up and running.”

New equipment options and design concepts will allow the Lock 14 station to produce 30% more power.

“With our new project at Lock 14, Berea College is once again demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability,” Roelofs said. “With these two projects, we are not just teaching our students about the value of renewable, carbon-free energy generation. These projects demonstrate our commitment to Appalachian communities as we deliver on our commitment to mindful and sustainable living.”

Construction of the project has already begun, and on-site work is scheduled to begin later this year. The Lock 14 station is expected to take around two years to build and should be producing power by May 2024.

In a release, officials said, with the addition of a new station, hydropower will offset all electricity usage at Berea College.

“We can do something that’s operationally sustainable, we can be a model for other organizations, and we can do something that will benefit the economy in the counties that have been hampered by national changes in the economy,” Roelofs added.

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