BEREA, Ky. (FOX 56) – Berea College is the first college in the U.S. to finish a hydropower project.

Berea set up a generating station along the Kentucky River in Estill County.

The 2.64-megawatt plant began generating electricity for Berea College in May and will give power to hundreds of Jackson Energy Cooperative customers. The power generated from the hydro plant has been sold to the Jackson Energy Cooperative at a discounted rate.

The $11 million project, named Matilda Hamilton Fee Hydroelectric Station after a co-founder of Berea College, has an expected lifespan of at least 50 years.

“This is a response to climate change,” David Brown Kinloch, president of Appalachian Hydro Associates (AHA), said. “This is clean, renewable energy. We will eliminate about 11,000 tons of carbon dioxide in the air every year.”

The revenue from this project will be poured into a Berea College fund that’s dedicated to supporting and educating students that are struggling financially.

 “We’re glad that the money, the investment, is being used to teach students that otherwise couldn’t go to college,” said Robert Fairchild, vice president of AHA. “We believe in the mission of Berea College as well.”