SMITHLAND - Approximately 35 local residents and other invited guests heard from one of the project engineers on the hydroelectric facility under construction in their community in an informational meeting sponsored by the Smithland Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The chamber hopes to have more sessions like the one which featured Dave Rittle, project engineer with turbine manufacturer Voith Hydro, in its effort to promote development and improve the quality of life in the region, according to Terry Teitland, president.
"We were delighted with the turnout," Teitland said. "We're trying to get people involved with the chamber and use our resources to better educate the community."
According to Dianne O'Brien, who helped organize the event, the chamber sees the construction project as a "historic" occasion and a way to bring the region together. In addition to local businesspeople, attendees included nearby city officials, power company representatives, as well as representatives of U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.
Smithland is one of four hydroelectric facilities under construction by American Municipal Power of Columbus, Ohio, which represent "the largest run-of-the-river development currently in the United States," according to Kent Carson, AMP spokesman.
The project is on schedule for completion sometime in 2015 and will ultimately supply some electricity to customers of Paducah Power System, one of 79 participating communities in five states.
One of the attendees was Bill Murphy, an engineering professor at the University of Kentucky's extended campus in Paducah.
"I was pretty impressed with their design, from an engineering point of view," Murphy said. "In general, most of your hydroelectric facilities are custom engineered for a particular location because of water flow and elevation of the pool behind the dam."
Because all four projects were similar in flow consistency and pool elevation, AMP basically had one design, which saved a lot of engineering time. "From that point of view, it was sort of unique."
Murphy said he hopes to be able to take his engineering students on a tour in the future.
O'Brien said the chamber is truly a regional effort, with members in Livingston, Crittenden, Lyon, Marshall and McCracken counties.
She said the organization plans to sponsor other sessions on topics related to the hydroelectric facility as the project continues and its impact on the region is realized.
Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.