Belleville Project - Complete Application Received

Project Name Belleville
LIHI Certificate No.
Pending #193
LIHI Certificate Term
September 21, 2022 – September 20, 2032
Owner American Municipal Power, Inc.
State Ohio/West Virginia
Location River mile 204 on the Ohio River, Meigs County, Ohio/Wood County, West Virginia
Installed Capacity 42 MW
Average Annual Generation 259,017 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-6939 issued in 1989, expires 08/31/2039

The Belleville Project is located on the Ohio River in West Virginia in Wood County and in Ohio in Washington and Meigs counties. The project is immediately adjacent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Belleville Locks and Dam which is the 8th lock and dam downstream from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the Ohio River originates at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers. A series of locks and dams operated and maintained by the USACE regulates pool elevation on the Ohio River for navigation. These dams create 19 pools upstream of the Mississippi River confluence. The entire length of the Ohio River has been altered by channelization and the construction of over 60 locks and dams to accommodate ship traffic since the late 1800’s. The project owner group representative owns or maintains four other hydroelectric projects along the Ohio River including: Willow Island (FERC Project No. 6902, LIHI #187), Meldahl (FERC Project No. 12667, LIHI #194), Cannelton (FERC Project No. 10228), and Smithland (FERC Project No. 6641).

Overall construction began in May of 1962. Construction of the locks began in 1963, the dam construction was initiated in 1964, and the locks became operational in 1965. The pool was raised to full height in November of 1968. The Belleville Hydroelectric Facility began construction in late 1995 and reached full commercial operations in 1999. The structure is a submersed reinforced concrete powerhouse and gravity dam designed to abut the existing USACE concrete dam.

The existing USACE structure consists of a non-navigable, high-lift, gated dam with a top length of 1,206 feet, including a 189-foot fixer weir with an open crest. There are two parallel navigation locks, the main lock is 110 feet by 1,200 feet and the auxiliary lock is 110 feet by 600 feet. The powerhouse is located on the West Virginia bank. The navigation locks are located on the Ohio bank.

The hydropower plant includes:

  • A concrete powerhouse structure approximately 245 feet long and 140 feet wide, containing two horizontal shaft bulb-type Kaplan turbines with a total installed capacity of 42 MW;
  • An approach channel approximately 500 feet long with a wall on the river side;
  • An approximately 150-foot-long by 66-foot-wide tailrace channel that passes the
    discharge from the turbines back to the river at a point approximately 307 feet below the dam;
  • A single-circuit 138-kilovolt transmission line;
  • A landside closure structure; and
  • Recreation facilities and other appurtenant facilities.

The project operates in run-of-river mode and impounds an 8,900-acre reservoir. During low flows, when the river is being regulated for protection of navigation and other federal interests, all discharges are controlled by the USACE. Under normal operations, flows from approximately 2,000 cfs to 40,000 cfs are passed through the turbines. Flows between 36,500 cfs up to approximately 205,000 cfs are passed through both the dam and the Project. If the river flow is less than the minimum turbine discharge of approximately 2,000 cfs, the hydro plant is shut down and all flow is passed through the dam. A continuous minimum flow of 2,000 cfs is provided to protect aquatic habitat and maintain recreational fishing activities downstream of the project.

Designated uses for waters within the project area include aquatic habitat, recreation, and public water supply. However, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) has designated the Ohio River as being impaired for fish consumption due to PCB and dioxin like much of the river. The river including the project vicinity, is also impaired for contact recreation due to E. coli contamination.

The project vicinity is host to a mix of warm and cold water fish species. No anadromous species are present, except for skipjack herring, though this species is also able to complete its lifecycle completely within freshwater. The catadromous American eel is present in small numbers. Other fish species present include minnows, sunfish, suckers, shad, and catfish. ORSANCO has deemed the overall fish population to be in good condition, with samples collected immediately downstream of the dam classified as in excellent condition. Passage by the project is afforded via the adjacent locks.

Downstream passage is available at the project through the lock system, through the eight Tainter gates, or over the 189-foot-long fixed weir during periods of high flow, and through the project turbines. The powerhouse intakes have trashracks with 6-inch clear spacing and the approach velocity at the intake is estimated to be 4.0 feet per second. The powerhouse contains two horizontal shaft bulb-type Kaplan turbines and while fish could become entrained, the very large diameter Kaplan turbines with low rotational speed (64 rpm), three large-diameter blades, wide gaps between the blades, and relatively broad and smooth leading edges of blades minimize blade strike and mortality to entrained fish.

The project lands consist of roughly 39 acres. Land use in the area is generally agricultural or industrial in nature. Project lands are limited due to the adjacent Belleville Locks and Dam, owned by the USACE. Shoreline directly connected to the project, both upstream and downstream, is comprised of riprap. The downstream shoreline has recreational amenities, including access paths and fishing piers.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include Indiana bat, little brown bat, tri-colored bat, clubshell, fanshell, Northern riffleshell, pink mucket, purple cat’s paw, sheepnose mussel, and snuffbox mussel, lamprey, spotted gar, American eel, channel darter, river darter and Northern long-eared bat. No critical habitat for the listed species has been identified in the project area. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) provided suggestions to limit potential impacts on the listed species including guidance on when to conduct landscaping activities and in-water work. ODNR notes that if this guidance is observed, project impacts on any listed species is unlikely.

Cultural resources in the project vicinity include a stone bridge and prehistoric archaeological site, both eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A third site, Crooks farmstead, is also nearby though ineligible for listing due to the site’s lack of integrity. The West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office provided guidance on actions to minimize impacts on these properties.

Recreational resources at the project include angling opportunities, picnicking, and sightseeing. Angling opportunities are available immediately downstream of the powerhouse and dam via an enclosed catwalk that wraps around the powerhouse and leads to a fishing pier, as well as downstream of the Project via two separate fishing piers, one of which is unversally accessible. A formal shoreline path connects each fishing pier. Additional recreation amenities include two picnic pavilions, a fish cleaning station, a public restroom, two paved parking areas, and an overflow parking area. Public access is provided free of charge.

Certification History

February 21, 2023:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Belleville Hydroelectric Project (pending LIHI #193).  The application and review report are found below.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with “Belleville Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on March 23, 2023. If no appeal requests are received the certification term will be September 21, 2022 through September 20, 2032.

September 26, 2022: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Belleville Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below.

Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Belleville Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 407, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on November 25, 2022 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.