The hydroelectric facility used by the town of Bedford is a run-of-the-river system, defined by the U.S. Energy Information Administration as a system where “the force of the river’s current applies pressure on a turbine.”
When the river is full and flowing strong, hydroelectricity can power up to 1,000 homes, Wagner said. However, the actual number of customers served this way is usually about half that. Capacity depends entirely on the river conditions, he said.
The town purchases power generated from two other hydroelectric plants closer to Lynchburg on the James River, though the department does not own those facilities.
The town’s project relicensing application to the FERC includes several proposed projects to increase the longevity of the hydroelectric facilities, Wagner said. The documentation submitted includes a proposed 4.0-kilovolt, 120-foot underground transmission line from the powerhouse to the project substation, and two 3.75-megavolt-ampere step-up transformers. The town also proposed to remove an existing 2,800 foot transmission line since it is no longer the project’s primary transmission line.
The department would like to construct a workshop out of the flood plain near the facility, Wagner said. This would prevent records and equipment from being damaged or washed away in the event of a flood. Although such an event has not happened since 1985, it is “not out of the realm of possibility” in the area. Otherwise, he said the proposed projects should not result in environmental disturbances.