- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - South Bend could see its first water-driven power facility for the first time in more than a century under a proposal that would have the University of Notre Dame build the facility.

Documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission indicate Notre Dame would build the 1.83 megawatt facility on a city-owned dam downtown. Construction would start next year and be completed in 2019.

The South Bend Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1dbAdiE ) the facility would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 900 homes.

The estimated cost of the project isn’t clear. Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown declined to comment on the project, and the city hasn’t offered many details.

“For Notre Dame to put money on the table to start considering this, they want to make sure the city is open to this,” city engineer Patrick Corbitt Kerr said.

The university currently operates its own on-campus power plant and purchases additional power from Indiana Michigan Power.

The city received a federal exemption for a small hydroelectric facility - less than 10 megawatts - on the dam in 1984 but has yet to act on it and was at risk of losing it, documents show. Notre Dame would need to get federal consent to take over the exemption in order to pursue the project.

South Bend has tried before to harness the power of the dam for energy purposes.

The city installed a small, 45-kilowatt turbine at Seitz Park in 2012 to power a portion of the park’s electrical needs. Therese Dorau, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, said it still needs some final testing before it can be used.

Gary Gilot, a member of the Board of Public Works, said he supports the project.

“Everybody would love to see this project if it’s economically viable,” he said.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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