Title

Confronting a Wicked Problem -Smarter Dam Energy Choices for Economic, Environmental and Public Health

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Start Date

13-11-2015 8:00 PM

End Date

13-11-2015 9:59 PM

Description

The Conowingo Dam nears a century of use as a hydropower facility. Yet, concerns mount regarding deficient fish passageways, looming species extirpation, sediment releases into Chesapeake Bay, insubstantial flood control capacity and potentially dangerous storm surge response. Conowingo produces enough power for approximately 155,000 homes and $5,000,000 in local tax revenue, but the station rarely operates at its peak capacity (572 MW). Monthly generation varied widely over the past 15 years, fluctuating two orders of magnitude (3,700 to 340,000 MWh). The dam also produces less energy in late summer months, dropping generation to ~100 MW, half the average rate. We review seven alternatives for offsetting the energy deficit that would be created by decommissioning Conowingo: anaerobic digestion, geothermal, waste-to-energy, nuclear upgrades, wind, solar and relocated hydropower options. Additionally, although Conowingo is located fairly close to a high-voltage transmission line junction (≥ 345 kV) that crosses the Susquehanna at Three-Mile Island nuclear facility, the dam is about 80 km from Baltimore and more than 130 km from Philadelphia, the main energy markets in the region. Efficiency incentives and locally generated power could offset the loss of the dam’s energy production with lower-than-peak replacement generation, providing reliable power with less transmission and distribution losses. An “all-of-the-above” strategy offers hope for implementation of multiple smaller (2 to 50 MW) projects in locations that are closer to consumer energy markets, especially if coupled with energy efficiency incentives programs. Committing to these options would create the opportunity for green jobs and more than compensate for lost tax revenue in the region. While stakeholders’ attempts at conservation are evident in Conowingo’s fish ladders, hatchery programs and years of studying the effects of sediment on the Chesapeake Bay, a once burgeoning ecosystem now stands as withered evidence that successful rehabilitation is not compatible with the dam. Considering the hazards this dam presents to the health of the Susquehanna River watershed and public safety, when is the right time to re-evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining the status quo?

Language

eng

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Nov 13th, 8:00 PM Nov 13th, 9:59 PM

Confronting a Wicked Problem -Smarter Dam Energy Choices for Economic, Environmental and Public Health

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

The Conowingo Dam nears a century of use as a hydropower facility. Yet, concerns mount regarding deficient fish passageways, looming species extirpation, sediment releases into Chesapeake Bay, insubstantial flood control capacity and potentially dangerous storm surge response. Conowingo produces enough power for approximately 155,000 homes and $5,000,000 in local tax revenue, but the station rarely operates at its peak capacity (572 MW). Monthly generation varied widely over the past 15 years, fluctuating two orders of magnitude (3,700 to 340,000 MWh). The dam also produces less energy in late summer months, dropping generation to ~100 MW, half the average rate. We review seven alternatives for offsetting the energy deficit that would be created by decommissioning Conowingo: anaerobic digestion, geothermal, waste-to-energy, nuclear upgrades, wind, solar and relocated hydropower options. Additionally, although Conowingo is located fairly close to a high-voltage transmission line junction (≥ 345 kV) that crosses the Susquehanna at Three-Mile Island nuclear facility, the dam is about 80 km from Baltimore and more than 130 km from Philadelphia, the main energy markets in the region. Efficiency incentives and locally generated power could offset the loss of the dam’s energy production with lower-than-peak replacement generation, providing reliable power with less transmission and distribution losses. An “all-of-the-above” strategy offers hope for implementation of multiple smaller (2 to 50 MW) projects in locations that are closer to consumer energy markets, especially if coupled with energy efficiency incentives programs. Committing to these options would create the opportunity for green jobs and more than compensate for lost tax revenue in the region. While stakeholders’ attempts at conservation are evident in Conowingo’s fish ladders, hatchery programs and years of studying the effects of sediment on the Chesapeake Bay, a once burgeoning ecosystem now stands as withered evidence that successful rehabilitation is not compatible with the dam. Considering the hazards this dam presents to the health of the Susquehanna River watershed and public safety, when is the right time to re-evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining the status quo?