FOSTER | Rock removal has been completed and progress on construction of the powerhouses for the Meldahl Dam Hydroelectric plant are on schedule, officials said on Tuesday.

"We are about three to four months into powerhouse construction. We completed rock removal last week,' said Tom Leibham, Meldahl Dam Hydroelectric Plant project manager.

Early core testing gave contractors a good idea of what to expect as they began removal of rock from the site between the Ohio River and Kentucky 8 in Bracken County, he said.

"The amount of rock checked out just as expected," Leibham said. "Concrete work starts in a few weeks; about mid December."

Components for the three turbine generators have also begun to arrive, he said.

"Unlike when we were working on the coffer dam, for this work, the rain and weather have not been an issue for us," he said.

The powerhouse will house three horizontal 35 MW bulb type turbine and generating units with a capacity of 105 MW.

A three-phase completion of the turbine generator area is planned with the last turbine completed and commercial operation in 2014, he said.

The $550 million endeavor is coordinated through the city of Hamilton, Ohio, and expected to eventually provide 520,000 megawatts of electricity per year.

According to officials, when completed, Meldahl will become the largest hydroelectric power plant on the Ohio River and provide the city of Hamilton with nearly 70 percent ecologically "green" power.

In partnership with American Municipal Power of Ohio Incorporated, COH is committed to have the facility into commercial service in 2013, officials said.

As part of the agreement, AMP-Ohio is financing hydroelectric plant construction at Meldahl.

AMP-Ohio, is a nonprofit wholesale power supplier and services provider for more than 120 municipal electric systems in six states. Its partnership with COH at Meldahl, allows it a 48.6 percent share in electricity produced at Meldahl and 51.4 percent for COH, officials said.

The project has a potential of helping stabilize electricity rates for COH service area. When completed, and in conjunction with other COH and AMP-Ohio electric projects, like the Prairie State Energy Campus in Lively Grove, Ill., officials anticipate 85 percent of electric rates for energy used by COH served customers will be fixed rates, officials said.

When completed, the site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse, and a tailrace channel.

A recreation area is also planned adjacent to the site to provide the public with access to the river.

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