Marshall University Announces Hydro-Electric Demonstration and Education Project at Morris Creek Watershed, Montgomery, WV

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) and the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall has continued their partnership with the West Virginia Division of Energy (WVDOE) Office of Coalfield Community Development on a variety of projects to demonstrate renewable energy applications on former surface-mined properties. The latest project to be announced is the completion of a hydro generator installation in conjunction with the Morris Creek Watershed Association (MCWA), located near Montgomery, WV. This project is quite unique, using acid mine drainage discharge as a water source for a small-scale (1.3 kW) hydro generator.

The Morris Creek Watershed is located within an extensively mined area in Fayette and Kanawha County, with both surface and underground mining. Mining has not occurred in the watershed since the late 1980’s, and numerous acid mine drainage discharges from underground mine workings are present. Water from one discharge, impacted by both surface and underground mining activities, has been diverted to provide the water source for the hydro generator. After passing through the generator, the water is then directed back into the main stream for treatment before entering Morris Creek. Power generated from the system is being used to charge MCWA’s stream monitoring equipment and for their meeting facility. System performance is being monitored by MCWA, who will also be offering informational tours of the system as part of their various on-going educational projects.

George Carico, Director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University, has been assisting the WVDOE in locating sites where a hydro generator could be installed for demonstrating this particular type of renewable energy. Carico said that while the project provides renewable energy to the MCWA, it provides a far greater project component in its educational aspect.

“We’re seeing an increasing interest in various types of renewable energy all around the State. Electricity generated from hydro power is definitely not new, but using mine water discharge as a power source is distinctly unique. This system, though quite small in terms of electrical generation capacity, will help people better understand this particular type of renewable energy. With MCWA providing educational outreach, the local community, students and teachers that visit the watershed as part of school field trips, and other watershed groups will get to see “up close” how hydro power, in the right setting, can provide a reliable power supply.”

A total of $14,000 in federal and local funding was provided for the project, including $7,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and $7,000 in cash and in-kind match funding from the MCWA. Included in the MCWA match funding was engineering expertise and support from West Virginia University Tech and Bridgemont Community & Technical Collage.