Support building for $13 million power plant in Lawrence

LAWRENCE | A proposed $13 million hydroelectric power plant on the Kansas River in Lawrence is gaining public support.

The Bowersock Mills & Power Company's plan was revealed to the public on Thursday. The plant would be constructed on the north bank of the river, directly across from the existing plant on the Kaw. The plans also would increase public access to the river.

"It is going to be a real gem over there on the river," said Bowersock plant manager Rich Foreman.

A key neighborhood group is already supporting the plan, saying they believe green energy is the wave of the future.

"We're 100 percent in support of it," said Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Association. "We think green energy is going to be a big part of the future."

The project now needs to obtain federal permits and find funding. Bowersock executive Sarah Hill-Nelson said the company hopes to know whether it will secure the necessary permits by late 2010.

The building will be slightly taller than the Kansas River bridge and will be extend out into the river about 150 feet.

"I think it will complement the big City Hall on the other side of the river," said Mike Thompson, a Lawrence resident who attended the meeting.

Hill-Nelson said Bowersock would build a new area where canoes could be launched into the Kaw and also a new fishing platform that would be near the downriver side of the plant.

The new plant would more than double the amount of electricity the company could produce.

Hill-Nelson estimated that the north plant, combined with the existing plant, would be able to produce enough electricity for about 4,500 homes.