The company thinks it might be able to produce enough electricity at the dam to power a town of 1,100 people.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- An Akron-based company should know within a year if it's feasible to build a small electric plant at the Shenango Dam.
Universal Electric Power Corp. had a three-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit to do a preliminary study of its plan, but that expired April 9.
The company has filed an application seeking an additional three-year permit to complete its studies, said Raymond Helter, a regulatory affairs specialist with Universal.
Work didn't get completed on the Shenango Dam project because Universal was concentrating on studies to develop power plants near navigation locks on the Allegheny River in the Armstrong and Allegheny County region, Helter said.
The company believes the Shenango Dam might support a power plant capable of generating 1,510 megawatts of electricity on a regular basis, enough to power a small town of about 1,100, he said.
The key to that plan is the outflow coming from the dam.
Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no objection to Universal's taking a look at the site, the federal agency says the late summer flow from the dam is so low that building a turbine-powered operation to generate electricity probably isn't feasible.
Universal, in business for five and a half years, has one site like the Shenango Dam in Akron and will open three others in Michigan and Wisconsin within two or three months, Helter said.
"We're hoping, within a year, we'll know if we can develop [Shenango]," he said. Cost of the study is estimated at $200,000.
Electricity generated at the plant could be sold to a utility company or to private business and industry.
Universal also develops the power-generating turbines and could build its power station and sell it outright to a utility company, Helter said.
Ray John, of the corps' Natural Resources Section in Pittsburgh, said there are a number of small power plants built by companies like Universal at several corps facilities, including dams on Youghogheny River Lake on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border and Conemaugh River Lake near Saltsburg, just east of Pittsburgh.