Below is my response to Beth Barrett’s email seeking an update on South Bend’s hydroelectric project:


Dear Beth,

Thank you for your interest in the progress of the hydroelectric power/educational tourist project on the dam at Century Center.

To refresh your memory, in February, I wrote to Congressman Joe Donnelly asking him about federal grants for which South Bend may apply to offset construction costs of a clean-energy project such as hydroelectric power.  In response, Congressman Donnelly informed me Congress had passed and President Bush had signed the Energy Security and Independence Act (PL 110-140) last December.  Although a grant program such as this would be just the kind of federal assistance South Bend could tap into, Congress has yet, nearly one year later failed to fund this important legislation.    Congressman Donnelly suggested I contact you, his Grants Director, at his South Bend office to research other grant options available for South Bend.  In April, you informed me there are currently no grants available for South Bend to access to build a hydroelectric generator that would help the city create green energy jobs, reduce its carbon footprint, diminish its reliance on coal-generated power and lower its electricity bill.

South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke has publicly supported this hydroelectric project.  Gary Gilot, Director of the Department of Public Works would also very much like to see this project happen and has done much legwork towards this end.  Letters have also been sent to members of the South Bend Common Council, seeking their support for this project; Councilman Derek Dieter personally told me he supports this project.

On September 15th, I organized a meeting between Gary Gilot; Mike Keen, IUSB’s Director of the Center for a Sustainable Future; James Mazurek, ND’s Director of Sustainability; Steve Francis, Executive Officer of the Indiana Sierra Club; Kerry Temple, Editor of ND Magazine and myself.   The purpose of the meeting was to disseminate information and to determine what funding avenues have been explored.  Jim Mazurek noted he would like to propose that ND partner with the city on this hydro project; certainly, if South Bend could secure federal grants for this project, this would go a long way in helping the city find corporate co-sponsors to offset construction costs.

On October 17th, I received a call from Hodge Patel, who also works in Congressman Joe Donnelly’s office.  He was unaware of the legwork that’s been done on this project thus far and was also unfamiliar with the Energy Security and Independence Act.  I gave Hodge a verbal summary of the work I’ve done on this project and sent him a link to my blog site, which gives a chronology of this project from my perspective.

You ask in your most recent email what Congressman Joe Donnelly’s office can do for me.  For the citizens of South Bend you can:

1)    Impress upon Congressman Joe Donnelly to work towards funding of the Energy Security and Independence Act so South Bend can apply for assistance to construct the proposed hydroelectric generator/educational tourist facility on the Dam at Century Center,

2)  Continue to search for other federal grant options for a project such as this and

3)    Coordinate efforts with Hodge Patel and other staff within Congressman Donnelly’s office to urge the Congressman to support renewable, emission-free energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power for the health of our community and our neighbors and the security of future generations.


Thank you for your interest in this project. Please click on this link  for more details on the work I’ve done thus far to move this project along.  I hope the next time you contact me, you will have good news about what Congressman Donnelly has done to support funding of grants for projects such as this.