Renewable energy company Free Flow Power Corp. announced Thursday plans to invest $12 million to transform a state-owned dam in Lawrence County into a 4-megawatt hydroelectric power facility.
The dam in Williams, Indiana, was originally hydroelectric before being decommissioned in the 1950s. Since then it’s played a part in maintaining the water supplies for the communities surrounding the White River but concerns about its structural integrity led to questions of decommissioning it for good in 2008.
“We spent three years talking to stakeholders, finding out what their concerns were, finding out what we should study,” says Tom Feldman, vice president of project development for Free Flow Power. The company began studying the dam in 2010 as one of its projects to transform existing state-owned and Army Corp of Engineers-owned dams in the U.S.
“We don’t view any of the results of those studies to present insurmountable obstacles,” he added.
Feldman anticipates the dam will come online on 2016 — that is, start generating electricity. He says the company hopes to sell power to local utilities and possibly nearby Crane Naval Base.
One of the potential customers in 2016 is the town of Bedford, about 10 miles away. Mayor Shawna Girgis says the project will also ensure that the dam remains intact and in commission in its role in Bedford’s drinking water supply.
“It shows that our community is supportive of a pretty progressive, cutting-edge project. So I think that gives us future opportunities in the area of energy,” Girgis says.