Mayor Steve Luecke and

Members of the South Bend Common Council

Across America, mayors are committing to address the threat of global climate change by signing on to the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities agreement. Moving forward with innovative energy solutions that curb global warming and save taxpayer dollars, these local governments are moving America towards becoming a network of healthier, sustainable and livable communities. South Bend can emulate Austin’s “green” government buildings, Charlotte’s hybrid vehicle fleets and Seattle’s homes powered with renewable energy and be part of this network of sustainability.

As Mayor Luecke considers taking up the Cool Cites challenge to reduce South Bend’s carbon footprint, I urge you to reconsider installation of the 1.5 megawatt hydroelectric power generator on the East Race of the St Joe River. Originally proposed in the 1980’s, South Bend secured the permit for this project, which it still possesses, and commissioned Lawson-Fisher Associates to design it. The project was killed when I&M proposed to purchase the power from the generator at a rate the city apparently considered to be too low.

Fortunately, South Bend is not obligated to sell the hydroelectric generator’s power to I&M, rather, the city could configure the project to direct the electricity to the municipal water works and the water treatment plant, the two biggest users of electricity in South Bend.

In addition to reducing South Bend’s reliance on electricity wrought from burning carbon-, mercury-, methane- and sulfur-spewing coal, Lawson-Fisher’s design for the hydroelectric generator includes plans for a wheelchair accessible below-water level viewing chamber. Windows on the walls of the chamber allow visitors to watch the river turn the generator’s turbines on one side and fish migrating upriver on the other. Modeled after one of the biggest tourist attractions in Seattle, an educational, enlightening and entertaining feature such as this has the potential to bring many hundreds of visitors to downtown South Bend year-round.

I have contacted the office of Congressman Joe Donnelly regarding hydroelectric power in South Bend and possible federal funding sources for a project such as this. His response, which I have attached, is encouraging with respect to his commitment to working with South Bend in making hydroelectric power a reality.  He informs us that federal grants are available for a project such as this and that his office stands ready to assist us.

I hope you are willing to put your energies behind guiding South Bend towards a healthy, livable and sustainable community. 

I look forward to hearing from you and offer any assistance I can give in gaining public support for this project.