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Hydro Green wants to harness water power on North Miss. lakes

Last June, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued preliminary permits to Houston, Texas-based Hydro Green Energy, LLC, for what the company says is the first water energy project ever in Mississippi.

Hydro Green is actually proposing four separate projects, all to be built at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dams at Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis and Grenada lakes in North Mississippi. They would generate approximately 100 megawatts of emission-free electricity to an array of customers.

For Wayne Krouse, founder, chairman and CEO of Hydro Green, the permits were obviously good news and represent an important milestone for his company. But, as a Mississippi native, he is doubly excited about the prospects of bringing this technology to the Magnolia State.

“Mississippi, I believe, is one of only three states in the nation that produces no hydroelectricity,” Krouse said. “This is new technology that all of the people in Mississippi can be proud of and the state can point to and say it is a leader in green energy.”

Small footprint

According to Krouse, Hydro Green’s hydrokinetic technology offers benefits and advantages over other hydroelectric production. Krouse said conventional hydroelectric production requires not only the flow of water to operate, but its depth, too, as the water must completely cover the turbine. Hydro Green’s Krouse Turbines are kinetic turbines, meaning that the renewable power that is generated comes from the energy in the motion or velocity of the moving water. The Krouse Turbine does not require complete immersion of the turbine, thus making the company’s product more flexible.

Krouse said the technology also has less impact on the environment. The turbine spins at 30 revolutions per minute, making it fish-friendly. The powerhouse is expected to measure only 30 feet by 40 feet, and the switchyard would be even smaller. And none of this infrastructure has to be right at water’s edge, giving it a low visual profile. Krouse also said Hydro Green would use landscaping and plant trees to further reduce visibility, if needed.

The proposed system would begin with a large pipe that would bring water into the powerhouse, which would house the turbine. The power would then be sent to a generator, from there to the switchyard and from there to the transmission lines.

The end-users of the electricity could be varied. Krouse said universities and businesses, particularly manufacturers, would be prime prospects.

How many workers could be employed during construction and at the facilities when operational is undetermined. Krouse estimated that up to 100 people could be employed at the facilities, but stressed that was only an estimate.

The uncertainty as to customers and workforce is due to the lengthy, requirement-heavy process. The issuance of the preliminary permits was important, but much pre-construction work is left. At press time, Hydro Green was conducting an environmental study with the Corps of Engineers. Krouse anticipated that study to wrap up in four to six weeks.

Krouse said the license application process, if FERC liked what it saw, could take 12 months. However, it could take as long as 18 months. And construction would take another 12 months. Thus, Hydro Green is hoping to have its Mississippi projects up and running in 2010 at the earliest, but 2011 may be more realistic.

Coming home

For Krouse, the wait would be worth it, and he has extensive experience in managing and driving growth to profitability in small start-up companies. A native of Natchez where he connected with the Mississippi River, he went on to Tulane University, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1993. Between 1993-1995, he held senior field engineer and field engineer positions with Schlumberger. From 1995-2001, Krouse held international business development, marketing and technical sales positions with Nalco/Exxon Energy Chemicals.

It was then that the roots of Hydro Green began to take hold. Looking to keep abreast of competition, Krouse began studying patent databases to see what new, emerging technology was on the horizon. Over time, he discovered a noticeable lack of hydrokinetic technology development.

Seeing a niche, he formed Hydro Green in 2002. He filed for patents that same year, and was awarded them in 2005.

Hydro Green provides renewable energy solutions across a range of technologies from its patent portfolio. Hydro Green’s Run of River technology is a scalable renewable hydropower generation design that provides solutions for commercial hydropower generation applications up to 500 megawatts. The company’s ultra compact solar water heaters can be used for residential and light commercial applications to reduce the cost of energy used of water heating. And its residential and light commercial power generators can reduce power costs for the home or business.

Speaking of his company’s plans for Mississippi, Krouse said, “These will be marquee projects, and put Mississippi on the map in terms of hydroelectricity.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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