Archive for Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bowersock breaks ground on project to build new plant

Gov. Sam Brownback speaks about renewable energy at the groundbreaking for a $25 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River.

May 17, 2011

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The great-great-great grandchildren of J.D. Bowersock, the man responsible for the Bowersock dam in 1879, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, May 16, 2011, for the $20 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River. Throwing dirt from left are Henry Nelson 9, Hillary Griggs, 10, Hugh Griggs, 4, Oona Nelson, 6 and Lyle Griggs, 8.

The great-great-great grandchildren of J.D. Bowersock, the man responsible for the Bowersock dam in 1879, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, May 16, 2011, for the $20 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River. Throwing dirt from left are Henry Nelson 9, Hillary Griggs, 10, Hugh Griggs, 4, Oona Nelson, 6 and Lyle Griggs, 8.

Gov. Sam Brownback, right, looks over the Kansas River and visits with Kellen Petersen, left and Jeff Thorn, center, both engineers with Olsson Associates, about the $20 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for the project.

Gov. Sam Brownback, right, looks over the Kansas River and visits with Kellen Petersen, left and Jeff Thorn, center, both engineers with Olsson Associates, about the $20 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for the project.

Next comes a big hole and hopes for a dry summer.

Members of the Lawrence-based Bowersock Mills & Power Company officially broke ground Monday on a $25 million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River. Construction is expected to take the next 20 to 24 months to complete.

“This process has been fraught with difficulties and frustration,” said Stephen Hill, an owner of the local power company. “Sleepless nights and endless meetings were the norm for us. The fact that we are gathered here today is something like a miracle.”

City and state leaders praised the project Monday afternoon at a ceremonial groundbreaking. Gov. Sam Brownback said the project — combined with what he predicts will be multiple new wind projects that will be announced this year — will help make Kansas the “renewable state.” Brownback said that, in turn, will provide a boost to the state’s economy.

“I think the role of renewable energy can be significant,” Brownback said. “The capital investment alone is significant, the jobs created are a help, and we’re hearing from more companies who are looking at Kansas and want to know about our renewable energy portfolio because they see that as another way to sell themselves to the public.”

Sarah Hill-Nelson, chief executive for Bowersock, said major construction work on the project should begin in earnest in a matter of days. The plant will be at the north end of the Bowersock Dam, immediately east of the downtown Kansas River bridges. When completed, the new power plant will be just a bit taller than the bridges and will create a new landmark for motorists entering and leaving downtown.

The plant will operate in conjunction with the 1800s-era plant that Bowersock owns on the south bank of the Kansas River. The new plant will produce enough electricity to power about 3,300 homes per year. The Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities has signed a 25-year agreement to purchase all the power produced at the plant, which will be used to power homes and businesses in Wyandotte County.

The construction project will be a unique one for Lawrence since a significant portion of the work will occur in the river. Hill-Nelson said that was causing the company to root for a dry summer, in hopes of keeping flows of the river manageable for construction.

The family knows all about the unpredictability of the river. Stephen Hill is the great-grandson of Justin D. Bowersock, the early Lawrence industrialist who is credited with rebuilding the dam to withstand a series of major floods.

“His spirit has been looking over our shoulders on this project,” Hill said.

Comments

Randall Uhrich 6 years, 8 months ago

I foresee an eyesore, plus disturbing the historic wintering perches and hunting territory of the Bald Eagles. Has anyone done an Environmental Impact Statement? If all the electricity is going to Kansas City, Kansas, why not move it down the river and put it in Wyandotte County? It's already a dump. Anyone?

frankwiles 6 years, 8 months ago

"The plant will be at the north end of the Bowersock Dam, immediately east of the downtown Kansas River bridges. When completed, the new power plant will be just a bit taller than the bridges"... No trees there, just some rocks and a park bench, so no historic wintering perches. And if it's just a bit taller than the already "ugly" bridge I think that is a fair trade for a $20M project in town.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

The electricity isn't really going to KCK. The electricity will go onto the grid here in Lawrence, and the electricity that KCK actually uses will come off of that same grid, which will carry electricity from many different producers. To say that KCK is buying this electricity is merely a bookkeeping fiction.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

The difference is that Colorado is on a different grid from most of Kansas, and the part of Kansas that's on that grid doesn't need the extra electricity that will be generated.

Regardless, the CO2 that will be belched into the air will affect the entire planet, all the heavy metals and other pollution it will generate will head east with the prevailing winds, not to Colorado, and the water drained from the Ogallala will mostly affect the region around Holcomb, not Colorado.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Why is Lawrence not buying/using this electricity?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence will be using this electricity. See my post above.

TNPlates 6 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence can't buy this power as we don't have an electric utility. We buy our power from Westar, who had the option to buy this power, but offered a lower price than KC BPU (Board of Public Utilities - KCK's municipal utility). Westar has historically bought the power from the existing dam.

As Bozo stated, the actual electrons will flow into Lawrence and our electric grid, but KC BPU gets the equivalent power off the grid when it's produced. I wouldn't call it a bookkeeping fiction, however. It's how the grid works - you put power on the grid, you take the equivalent power off. Electric power flows "downhill" and you can't be sure that the power you use is the exact same electrons you produced, only that you get the same amount you take off. It's like banking - you put $100 in the bank, but when you withdraw it, you probably won't get the same $100 bill, but the amount is the same.

blindrabbit 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm for it, just so long as they install fish ladders to assures the prairie salmon (carp) spawn that occurs annually. Kinda looks like an Alaskan stream when those things begin their spawning run up to Lecompton.

bangaranggerg 6 years, 8 months ago

Wake up, Water Kills, Sheeple! Water Power Turbines can kill up to 70,000 fish per year, or 4.27 fish per turbine per year. Coal particulate pollution, on the other hand, kills fewer than 13,000 people per year. Source: http://www.coalcares.org/

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