The planned development of the Marseilles project comes more than 100 years after the initial hydroelectric power plant was built and commissioned in 1907 by William D. Boyce, a Chicago newspaper publisher and founder of the Boy Scouts of America. The new 10.26MW plant – for which MLWC received a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December 2011 – will be built in the same location as the original Boyce paper mill and power plant that ceased operations in the late 1950s. The buildings were then later razed to their concrete foundations.
The new plant is being planned and coordinated by Architect Lee W. Mueller and Civil Engineer Stephen C. Doret. The powerhouse will be sited on a diversion headrace adjacent to the Illinois River and below a Federal dam built in 1932 that is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Marseilles plant will operate at 17ft of head and utilize the bulk of the river flow that is expected to average 9600ft3/sec. MLWC will also refurbish the existing North Headrace Civil Structures and will construct a new intake diversion structure at the powerhouse. In addition, a two-acre wetlands preserve will be constructed in the existing South Headrace. FERC mandated recreational facilities, including handicap accessible fishing plazas will also be incorporated into the project.
Subsequent to receipt of the FERC License, MLWC awarded a contract to mavel for the provision of four Pit Kaplan turbines type Mavel KP3200K4. Mavel’s scope of supply will also include generators, gearboxes, hydraulic power units, cooling system and installation supervision. Commissioning is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Martin Sintak, Co-founder, Management Board Member and Sales Director of Mavel, said: “This is an especially important project for us in that the Marseilles HPP will be the third in a cascade of power plants in Illinois. All three will utilize Mavel’s low head Pit Kaplan technology. This technology has been proven at sites in Europe over the past twenty years and it is a good sign to see the United States also beginning to understand the enormous potential benefit of these low head hydro energy resources. There will be many new jobs in the region of the plants and more than 30MW of new clean energy for the state of Illinois without building a single new dam.”
According to Lee W. Mueller, Manager of MLWC, during the three years between FERC license application and approval in December 2011, ”numerous options for the most important component of the project, the generating equipment, and the turbines, in particular, were researched and considered with attention to the technical engineering expertise offered for the design and the manufacturing quality of the end product.”
As part of this research, MLWC representatives, including Mueller, visited Mavel’s manufacturing facilities in the Czech Republic as well as hydroelectric power plants utilizing Mavel’s Pit Kaplan turbines in Europe. Mueller noted that “after visiting the Mavel manufacturing facilities, meeting with their engineering design team, and inspecting Mavel designed representative hydro facilities in Europe, it was abundantly clear that, for the MLWC project in Marseilles, Illinois, Mavel was simply the right and obvious choice.”
Mavel also has contracts with Northern Illinois Hydropower LLC to provide Kaplan Pit turbines for the Brandon Road and Dresden Island hydroelectric plants upstream of Marseilles. The Dresden Island plant will be equipped with three Kaplan Pit turbines type Mavel KP3800K3 and have total installed power of 11.7MW. The Brandon Road plant is located on the Des Plaines River (which runs into the Illinois River) south of Joliet, Illinois. This project will utilize two Pit Turbines type Mavel KP3000K4 and have total installed power of 10.2 MW.