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This article describes Quincy, Ill's plans to produce power with the Mississippi River.

My first reaction: why isn't there more discussion of such projects? This is asked because over the past two decades there's been many reports of the improved efficiency of low-head generation equipment. (And that's what Quincy is discussing, low-head hydro -- hydro power that uses a small dam instead of a big one.)

The article answers my question: environmental costs, the poison that killed wind-power in North Carolina and is hitting projects everywhere that aren't proposed by someone with very deep pockets. But that's a discussion for another entry.

Besides answering my question the article also scratched a pet peeve -- stating 52 megawatts of generation could serve 52,000 homes. That's one kilowatt of electricity for each home. Despite many requests over the past decade, no one has shown me a home that can operate on one kilowatt of power.

This is a comparison the electric power industry started using in the 1970s. Or was it earlier than that? I don't know because I wasn't intersted in such things before the mid-70s. In this case, my knowledge doesn't matter, because the best estimates I've seen say this was outdated sometime in the 1960s.

A few utilities have stopped using this outdated number. But the only one I know of that has been really realistic is South Carolina's Santee Cooper.

1518 Views Comments 5 Comments Comments Add Comment Author BioAuthor Bio
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member photo Hi, Jim,

I visited this same area -- locks along the Mississippi -- with a view to applying a unique technology capable of converting a very low head into a higher head better suited to the hydro turbines available at the time. As you mention, events over the past twenty years or so have caught up with us and we now have several low-head machines that will do the job, providing they can handle river debris and shifting sands.

On a different issue, but a nonetheless important one, you made a glancing reference to "projects everywhere that aren't proposed by someone with very deep pockets". I'd like to hear what your thoughts are on the subject. I would also like to refer you to a letter of mine published in EnergyBiz Insider, December 20, 2006, (Letters to the Editor - Time to Innovate). Do we perhaps have some common ground here upon which to base some lively discussion?
# Posted By Alan Belcher | 11/30/07 6:55 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo "That's one kilowatt of electricity for each home." What's the total kwh on your monthly electricity bill? Mine actually comes quite close to 1 x 24 x 30 = 720 kwh, or 1 kw continuous.
# Posted By Len Gould | 12/3/07 6:18 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo But your demand isn't continous Len. Everytime a motor -- washing machine, refrigerator, etc -- starts there's a demand surge. With an air conditioner, that surge probably reaches 5 kWs. If the generating capacity isn't there, we have a brown out as lights dim or a blackout as some load is dropped. Both can damage the surge producer.
# Posted By Jim Brumm | 12/14/07 10:49 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo I would say another number is 2 kw per household hour or 48kw per day. It my oveshoot the average. but you need reserve power for obvious reasons.
# Posted By Michael Edwards | 4/3/08 8:56 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Jim Brumm: Recommend you go ask your local distribution company what "distribution factor" they use in sizing substation and feeder equipment to large subdivisions... It will come out very close to 1 kw / household for standard size homes which have gas service.
# Posted By Len Gould | 4/17/08 8:23 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
 
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