Can't we harness river power for energy?

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Everywhere we look these days we see ads concerning alternative energy sources and "going green." They range from windmill farms on mountaintops to solar energy to tapping the heat from beneath the Earth to nuclear energy and everything in between.

I, for one, am puzzled by the way one of the most visible sources of energy runs right through our community, yet nobody ever says anything about it. I speak of our rivers. We are truly blessed by having three of the most important waterways in the North American continent flow, quite literally, right under our noses. We use them for transportation, entertainment and relaxation. We fish in them, boat on them and drive across them every day yet nobody, to my recollection, has ever mentioned using them for our energy needs.

Has anybody, besides me, ever wondered just how many kilowatt hours of electricity have flowed across and down the faces of those eight or 10 navigation and flood control dams located in and around Pittsburgh for the last 60 or 70 years? There's no environmental danger, no poisoned water, no polluted air, the water doesn't wear out -- nothing but virtually free electricity.

With all the engineering expertise found in and around Pittsburgh, I am positive that simple water-driven electric generators could be designed to be mounted atop all those dams. I am not an electrical engineer but I would guess there would be enough water-driven power generated to supply not only the power needs of Pittsburgh but also the entire southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

I hope this letter pushes someone in the right direction and we finally become truly independent in our energy needs and can finally call ourselves a "green community."


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