Power plant construction underway


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Michael Bradford

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky. - Clean and green! That's how a power company and construction crews describe a $1.2 billion project underway in Livingston County.

A spokesperson for Ohio-based 'American Municipal Power' or A.M.P. says the hydro-electric power plant at the Smithland Dam should be running by mid 2015.

The Smithland mayor says the construction alone has already produced a profit in his town.

  Local 6's Jason Hibbs visited the site Wednesday and there were 200 workers. The site manager says at times there will be up to 400 people working.

At first, crews had to excavate and build a dam to keep the water away from the project.

Then the cranes came in, and crews started construction on three bulb turbines that are expected to generate enough power for 72,000 homes.

135 feet below the top of a temporary dam, men and women are working hard.

"It's not a small undertaking," AMP Spokesperson Kent Carson said.
"It's essentially a ten story building with nine stories underground, we're taking the water that's already running over the dam, through the dam, and diverting a portion of that through the facility and using that to generate electricity," Carson said.

One of the first phases of construction was to construct a dam to keep the water out. When construction is complete, they'll cut in to it and create a channel so the water can flow through.

Other crews are manufacturing concrete, and the turbine components are so big they have to be built on site. The site manager says there are a total of 10 companies involved, hence all the mobile offices. Most of the workers are from the area, those who aren't are renting.

Smithland Mayor Joe Ward says he's noticed a big difference. His town is busier and apartments are now nearly impossible to come by.

"Everything in town's full, around the surrounding area is full too," Ward said.

It'll likely to stay that way because the busy crews still have lots of work to do.

The site manager says the Flood of 2011 put crews about 55 days behind schedule. Other than that, construction has gone rather smoothly.

A spokesperson at Paducah Power says they'll buy some power from this plant, but that likely won't impact prices because AMP will become one of many Paducah Power suppliers.

An AMP spokesperson says 69 of their electric co-op members will receive power from the Smithland site.