New hydroelectric plant, first of its kind, to generate power in Kentucky

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station, named after the first lady who founded Berea College, is the first hydro project in the state in 94 years and is also the first in the nation using a new variable speed technology.

“Using this technology, we can slow the turbine down and keep it at its peak efficiency all the way down so there are no differentials, so even in floods we can be operating,” said David Brown Kinloch, president of Appalachian Hydro Associates.

Through this partnership between Appalachia Hydro Associates and Berea College, this new facility will also act as a great learning opportunity for students.

“The engineering students can come here and Dave and his team made sure to design facilities in the control building up there where the students can really see what’s going on,” said Lyle Roelofs, president of Berea College.

While this new hydroelectric facility will be a great learning and teaching opportunity for both students and staff at Berea College, the power generated by this facility will be sold primarily to Jackson Energy Cooperative.

“We’re actually selling power to them at a discount so every time we generate electricity, members are getting a savings helping to keep their utility bills down,” Kinlock said.

According to Derrick Singleton, the Vice President of sustainability at Berea College, growing renewable and sustainable energy is not only one of their commitments, but helps communities in the region as well.

“To do it in a way that’s clean, but that’s also economical, viable, and bring tax dollars and jobs to communities is just a great thing to do,” Singleton said.

Once in full operation, this new hydroelectric station will be able to produce enough electricity to power 1,200 homes.

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