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Notre Dame to build hydroelectric station

SOUTH BEND, IN – The University of Notre Dame has reached a deal with South Bend allowing the school to build and operate a hydroelectric power station on the St. Joseph River. A 50-year lease approved Monday by South Bend’s parks board authorizes Notre Dame to build the station on and beneath the St. Joseph River near downtown South Bend. Construction is expected to begin in the fall, with the project coming online in early 2019, the South Bend Tribune reported. Notre Dame will run transmission lines from the dam to its campus to generate about 7 to 10 percent of its electricity needs.

South Bend obtained an exemption in 1984 from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate a hydroelectric power station on the river, but the city did not act upon the exemption due to financial constraints. The lease agreement transfers that exemption from the city to Notre Dame. “It wasn’t financially viable for the city to pursue using the exemption,” said Aaron Perri, the city’s executive director of parks and recreation. “Financially, there wouldn’t be a return on investment for the city to do that.” The project will help reduce campus carbon emissions as part of sustainability plans that aim to eliminate the use of coal in the university’s power plant by 2020 and cut overall carbon footprint by more than half by 2030. However, the project will not provide a return on investment for the university, according to documents filed with the commission. University spokesman Dennis Brown said the school is also looking to harness solar energy and heat recovery projects as part of its ongoing sustainability plans.

Thanks to Ron Corso