Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on Friday, August 20, 2010, at 8:00 AM Central Time, in the Conference Room at the Courtyard Marriott in Paducah, Kentucky . Representative Keith Hall, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brandon Smith, Co-Chair; Representative Keith Hall, Co-Chair; Senators David E. Boswell, Ray S. Jones II, Bob Leeper; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Will Coursey, Jim Gooch Jr., Martha Jane King, Fred Nesler, Tom Riner, and Brent Yonts.
Non-Members: Representative Steven Rudy
Guests: Colonel Keith A. Landry, Commander, Louisville District, United States Army Corps of Engineers; John Talbert, Big Rivers; Ken Wheeler; Norb Whitlock, Pam Helton, Kentuckians for Better Transportation.
Coal Transportation, Olmsted Locks and Dam, and NWP-21
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry explained the locking process and stated that the technology has not changed much since the early 1700 and 1800s.
Representative Rudy stated that the Olmsted Dam is being built in Kentucky water and also in the first House district. He also stated that of the workers being hired in to work on the Olmsted project, half are from Kentucky and half are from Illinois. He said that the river industry is also vital in Kentucky.
Representative Hall said that the river industry provides about 6,500 jobs. He stated that in Kentucky about one-third of the coal comes from stripping, contouring and mountain development. If Kentucky's coal was no longer mined, that would be like shutting down the whole barge industry because 40 to 50 percent of barge traffic is coal.
Colonel Keith A. Landry, Commander, Louisville District, United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) stated that there are four corps of engineers districts that have a piece of Kentucky: Memphis, Louisville, Huntington and Nashville.
In response to Representative Couch, Colonel Landry said the corps district boundaries were determined years ago by watersheds. For example, the Louisville district has the watershed of the lower Ohio River. He said the USACE tries to regulate issues on a state by state basis to prevent a state from having multiple districts to work with. Kentucky still has the distinction of having to work with four corps districts depending on where the operations fall when it comes to permit and regulatory issues. The Louisville district has responsibility for the entire commonwealth in terms of emergency management.
Colonel Landry stated that coal is the largest commodity that moves up and down the river. The value of the Ohio River to commodities and industry is transparent during normal operations. When lock closures occur, traffic can be slowed, even stopped, affecting the delivery of goods and ultimately increasing costs to the consumer. In the absence of the Ohio river navigation system, by 2050 the United States would have 80,000 fewer jobs and a loss of $41 billion in economic income.
Colonel Landry said the USACE has a navigation center in the Huntington district that keeps track of statistics regarding what moves up and down the river. He said the navigation center can determine what products have come through any given lock.
He stated that in Kentucky, the USACE has an economic impact of 19,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion. In fiscal year 2008 the Louisville district alone had an economic impact of 27,000 jobs and about $7.5 billion nationwide.
Colonel Landry said locks and dams 52 and 53 are the last wooden wicket dams in Kentucky. These locks were built in the 1920s. Each lock has a 600 foot chamber approach wall out of alignment, as well as 1,200 foot chamber cells that are split apart and losing fill material. He stated that it is critical that Olmsted is finished in a timely fashion before something happens to locks 52 and 53. There is a requirement to keep a 9 foot deep channel for barge traffic. When the river drops too low, the barges cannot get through that portion of the river so it is necessary to pool water above the dam to allow them to pass through the locks. He said that locks 52 and 53 are the busiest locks within the waterway system. To lose these two locks and to move the same cargo, would result in an additional 11,000 trucks added to our roadways every day for a year.
Colonel Landry stated that when the Olmsted Dam was originally authorized in 1985 it was projected to cost $750 million, now it is projected to cost $2.1 billion. The dam is not scheduled for completion until 2016 and at that time the USACE will remove locks 52 and 53. He said that Olmsted dam will become the busiest spot on the waterways system in the nation. When it is completed 25 percent of the coal in the nation will move through the locks at Olmsted.
Colonel Landry said that in the process of building this dam, the workers cast 6 pieces of the dam at a time. He stated that it takes approximately 9 months to precast each piece that weighs between 3,500 to 5,000 tons.
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry stated that the river surface is first prepared with a grout mat, then the pieces will be dropped on top of that mat. Then the pieces will be grouted and secured in place to create a concrete sill.
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry stated that there are friction piles that go through the grout mat, but not all the way to bedrock because it is too far down. It has been determined that there are sands that have not moved for a very long time so the pieces are anchored into the sand.
Colonel Landry stated that to build this project the corps purchased the largest gantry crane in the world. The crane can lift a maximum of 5,100 tons. This crane is required on this project to lift and carry the large precast concrete shells that will be set in the river to construct the dam. The catamaran barge has a maximum capacity of 4,500 tons and is required to carry the large precast concrete shells with attached lifting frames on the river from the lower marine skid way to the shells’ final location.
He said that, using GPS and 3D imaging from the shoreline, the USACE was able to sculpt the river bed to the exact shape and contours that were necessary to keep ahead of the sand wave that moves across. He stated that the USACE will own all the equipment used to build the Olmsted Dam and that they have not made a decision on what to do with the equipment the dam is completed.
Colonel Landry stated that Olmsted incorporates unique engineering because it is compromised of a wicket dam. The wickets can be lowered during high water and barges can navigate over the structure. The wickets are made of steel and during low water the wickets are raised with a hydraulic prop and at high water, they lay down allowing traffic to pass over the dam.
He said that 50 percent of the material that moves on the river is coal. Twenty percent of the nation's coal-fired generation capacity is in the Ohio river system. There are 56 coal-fired plants on the Ohio river system. He stated that most of the coal that is mined in Kentucky is not actually used in Kentucky.
Colonel Landry stated that in 2008 Governor Beshear unveiled the state's first-ever comprehensive energy plan. The plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while creating 40,000 jobs tied to energy production and conservation between now and 2025. He said that McAlpine and Markland are two of the dams in Kentucky that produce hydropower. The USACE is currently in the process of making Smithland and Cannelton hydropower dams as well. He stated that when those dams are complete, the total hydropower generation capacity in the commonwealth will be three-quarters of a million kilowatts. He said that will be enough electricity to light up about one quarter of a million homes for a full year.
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry stated that the dams that are currently being removed would not include the dams in Kentucky that are currently used for hydropower. He said that the ones that are being removed are the smaller, older agriculture dams that have not been maintained and are no longer needed. He said that there is no serious consideration about putting hydropower in Olmsted because there will not be as much of a change in elevation as is needed.
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry said that the current generates the flow of the hydropower.
In response to Senator Boswell, Colonel Landry stated that the work stabilization being done at Wolf Creek was on track. They saw some additional movement in one of their indicators, stopped to do some assessment, and adjusted their plan to move forward.
In response to Representative Hall, Colonel Landry said that the USACE New Orleans district is involved in helping with the gulf oil spill. The Colonel said the main questions were what skills their staff had in case they were asked to go down and help.
Colonel Landry stated that the Louisville district has the regulatory authority for the whole state. When he first took command, the approval rate for general permits was above 90 percent, and now the rate is at 98 percent. He said that for individual permits, the rate was in the low 20 percent range when he took the job and now it is at 55 percent. He said that a permit is issued for the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.
In response to Representative Couch, Colonel Landry said that in the most recent permits, due to a high level of additional mining, the USACE has asked for additional testing.
In response to Senator Smith, Colonel Landry said that he is responsible for approving permits that cause the least amount of environmental damage possible.
In response to Senator Jones, Colonel Landry stated that he is just responsible for enforcing the regulations.
Representative Combs stated that in her understanding, the EPA delegated regulatory authority to the USACE. Colonel Landry responded that the regulatory authority resides with the EPA. He said they have delegated the permitting to the USACE but they have retained the ability to override the decision.
In response to Representative Combs, Colonel Landry stated that permits related to the waterways and coal mining are issued by the USACE. There are other state agencies that deal with other kinds of permits.
After the meeting adjourned the members took a tour of the Olmsted Lock and Dam.