Washington D.C. — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 04 January 2011 – One of the largest deployments of new hydropower generation in the United States is making good progress, and is expected to move much closer to commercial production during the course of 2011.

Three of six run-of-river hydro-electric plants are under construction at existing dams on the Ohio River “’ they are being built by American Municipal Power to increase its use of renewable power and to decrease its dependency on the volatile wholesale power market, reports Hydro Review.

A run-of-river facility generates power from the natural flow and elevation of a river, and does not require a large impoundment of water. Altogether, the six run-of-river projects will generate up to 350 MW of clean energy.

“The Ohio River dams represent a valuable, largely untapped resource of renewable power,” said Marc Gerken, president and CEO of AMP. “We’re proud of these projects and glad to be starting construction on the third facility.”

In September, AMP began construction of the 72MW Smithland project, which is expected to begin commercial production in 2014. The US$400 million project will create between 200 and 400 jobs during construction.

The other five run-of-river projects are: 105MW Meldahl, 48MW Robert C. Byrd, 35MW Willow Island, 84 MWCannelton and 49.5MW Pike Island.

By the end of 2011, hydropower producers should know more about the results of new research into the design of turbines that provide safe passage for fish. Ambitious innovations in fish-friendly turbine designs are being pursued in joint efforts between industry and government.

Several federal and state agencies have pledged to support the licensing and development of new hydropower projects in joint agreements to streamline the process.