16°FFairFull Forecast

$380M hydroelectric project planned for Lake Red Rock

Groundbreaking ceremony planned for Wednesday

Published: Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 10:59 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 11:04 a.m. CST

A $380 million effort to retrofit the Lake Red Rock Dam to produce hydroelectric energy for up to 61 communities across four states will get underway Wednesday with a groundbreaking.

The project is overseen by Sioux Falls, S.D. based company Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), which is projecting the plant will product 36.4 megawatts of power. It claims the dam is capable of powering 18,000 homes during peak water levels.

The project, expected to be completed in 2018, will be the second largest hydroelectric facility in Iowa.

Since Aug. 4, the North Tailwater area near the Red Rock Dam, as well as a portion of a trail and several picnic areas, has been closed to the public.

“We understand that these closures will be an inconvenience to some people,” said MRES Member and Public Relations Director Bill Radio. “But they are necessary for our contractors to build the hydropower project.”

Iowa Rep. Dan Kelley, D-Newton, is a known proponent of alternative energies and expressed strong support for House File 630 during the 2013 legislative session, which allows this project to receive the same sales tax credits as wind powered projects.

Kelley plans on attending the ceremony, as are a number of state officials, and is hoping the success of this project could spur development of another large hydroelectric project on the Mississippi River near Iowa’s eastern border. He said studies have shown that there are several suitable sites present in the area.

MRES projects the hydroelectric dam will create 400 to 700 construction jobs and provide an economic boom of $250 million dollars for the four county region surrounding the project.

Contact Senior Staff Writer Ty Rushing at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6532 or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.