GOSHEN, Ind. – For years, the Millrace Canal wasn’t only an aesthetic draw for citizens of Goshen, but also provided a source of power.
A South Bend company is working with the city to restore the canal to that original purpose.
Falling Waters LLC is currently engaged in negotiations with the Redevelopment Commission to lease the Goshen Powerhouse property at the north end of the canal to develop hydroelectric power, The Elkhart Truth reported.
Originally, Falling Waters had hoped to use the Powerhouse itself to convert the energy into usable power.
Goshen’s Redevelopment Commission, however, wanted to keep the Powerhouse available to rent for public events and private parties, leading Falling Waters to agree to construct a complimentary structure that will house the inverter equipment needed to convert the power from alternating current to direct current.
In addition to the converting structure, a hydropower electrical-generating turbine will be installed at the north end of the canal, according to David Snyder, Falling Waters’ Chairman and Manager.
Falling Waters will be plugged into the NIPSCO grid. Snyder anticipates that the company will purchase the power generated by Falling Waters.
He said they won’t know for sure how much power will be generated as of yet but estimated that the equipment will be able to churn out approximately one megawatt per hour, or a little more.
Snyder assured that the equipment and operation will not adversely affect the canal or its wildlife.
“We don’t foresee any impact,” he said, explaining that they haven’t observed any fish bedding on the downside of the Powerhouse and that the operation will not affect any fur-bearing animals that might drink from the canal.
Snyder added that the turbine to be installed is fish friendly and will not result in any fish deaths.
“It’s a very low-impact operation,” he said.
Snyder said it is a “wonderful” opportunity to use the canal as a source of power again and noted that, besides the equipment that needs to be installed, they’re simply using and reusing resources that are already present.
“It’s the cleanest and greenest power known to man,” Snyder said of hydroelectric power. “It’s such an exciting project for the area.”
He added that the Goshen site will be just one of several that Falling Waters will look to utilize over the next few years.
The lease agreement with the Redevelopment Commission could be accepted as early as next month’s meeting.
There may still be some wait after the lease is agreed upon before construction will begin.
“We will probably be about a year away,” Snyder said, due to the federal permit process. But once equipment is installed and tied into the NIPSCO grid, power production will begin within days.