MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Mississippi River could soon be powering your home. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation gave a $125,000 grant to Greene Turbine, LLC to help bring their green ideas to fruition.
Geoff Greene, owner of the company, says this is a huge breakthrough in energy production for the Mid-South. Greene and his team have found a way to successfully build large turbines that will run underwater and at a high enough speed to generate electricity.
Construction on the first 35 foot turbine will begin this month. One turbine will power 100 Mid-South homes. If the turbine is successful in producing steady electricity, Greene hopes the Tennessee Valley Authority will purchase its electricity. Greene anticipates being able to put more than 400 turbines in the Mississippi River, which would power up to 50,000 Mid-South homes.
The Allen plant at President’s Island uses 3 million tons of coal every year to power 340,000 homes in the Mid-South. The Shelby County Air Quality Improvement Branch says while we can’t completely avoid using coal, the underwater turbines will help to reduce our carbon footprint.
Larry Smith, Pollution Control Supervisor, says, “It will save 463 tons of coal for an entire year whereas that would be burned otherwise. The signal it sends that we're getting energy from the river and it is, in fact, having a reduction is a very good thing.”
Geoff Greene hopes the Mid-South is only the beginning of this clean production of electricity. His overall goal is to construct much larger underwater turbines that can generate 10 mega-watts of power. Those are planned to be placed in the Gulf Stream. One large turbine will be able to power 7,000 houses.
Greene says you will not see a direct impact on your electric bill immediately.
“It will keep the power rates from going up. There will be more base-load power,” says Greene.
The goal is to have one 35 foot turbine completed and in the river producing electricity by mid-December.