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Hydropower Project Proposed For St. Clair River

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PORT HURON (AP) – A company wants to use hundreds of floating turbines to generate electricity from water flowing in the St. Clair River that runs between Michigan and Ontario, Canada.

The St. Clair River Bi-National Public Advisory Council in Port Huron heard plans Thursday from Troy-based Current Connection LLC, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported. The company has proposed a hydrokinetic project with 396 turbines.

“Our goal is to create jobs in the state of Michigan,” said Tim Smith, chief executive of Current Connection, which is working to develop the turbines.

There is no timeline for the project, which likely would need regulatory and other approval. The turbine farm would be outside commercial shipping lanes used by Great Lakes freighters. And work is being done to study potential environmental impact of the project, Smith said.

Under the plan, the turbines would be in the river from the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron stretching 300 yards south and 40 yards wide on the U.S. side. The turbines – each about 13 feet in diameter – would float 10 feet off the bottom about 30 feet offshore.

Impact of the project on sturgeon-spawning habitat under the Blue Water Bridge in the St. Clair River was one concern raised at the meeting.

“We don’t believe there is impact and if there is, and if we have to shut … down for a period of time to have no impact, we would,” Smith said.

Judy Ogden, first vice president of the Blue Water Sportfishing Association, said she was concerned about the impact of the turbine farm on the recreational fishery, since many migrating fish species in addition to the sturgeon pass through the St. Clair River.

“This doesn’t seem like a very good location,” Ogden said. “It’s such a narrow strait.”

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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