Today I received a call from Hodge, a staffer at Congressman Joe Donnelly’s office.  He told me he was returning a call I’d made to Congressman Donnelly about hydroelectric power in South Bend.  My records suggest the last time I spoke with anyone in Donnelly’s office was in April 2008, when I spoke with Beth Barrett, Congressman Donnelly’s Grants Director.  At the time, Donnelly had directed me to speak with Beth about possible federal grants South Bend may be able to tap to fund a hydroelectric generator on the dam at Century Center.  Although Congressman Donnelly had informed me he’d supported the Energy Security and Independence Act  (PL 110-140), which President Bush signed into law in December 2007, Congress has yet to fund this important piece of legislation.  Beth told me at that time there were no federal grants available for projects such as this.  (Apparently finding $700 billion to bail out careless Wall Street risk-takers is easier than making money from taxes available to cities for green energy projects that create jobs, reduce our carbon footprint and, in the case of the South Bend project’s proposed viewing chamber, promotes tourism and education)

Hodge wanted to let me know he’d spoken to AEP about hydroelectric energy on the St Joe river and that, although AEP has several hydro generators on the river, they have no current plans in place to add South Bend to the list, (despite the fact that South Bend already has a permit and design for the project.  My emphasis). 

I told Hodge I was already aware of the information he was giving me, so I brought him up to speed on what I’ve done on this project up to the recent meeting I’d arranged with Gary Gilot, South Bend’s Director of Public Works and other local leaders interested in issues of sustainability.  Hodge was interested in the Energy Independence and Security Act and asked me to send him what information I had about the legislation.  I also offered to send him a link to this blog’s page on the chronology of the hydro project. 

Maybe PL 110-140 will get funded in time for the election.  Stay tuned.