Years of planning and negotiating are about to pay off for the Tri-County Water Conservancy District as construction crews recently began the process of tapping the green power potential stored in Ridgway Dam. When the project is complete, a hydropower plant with two generators will produce hydroelectric power to be distributed to local area customers. The district, headquartered in Montrose, has contracted with Mountain States Hydro to design and build the planned 8 megawatt facility.
According to general manager Mike Berry, the power produced will be sold to the City of Aspen and to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The plant will house two generators that will be operated at different times of the year. In the winter, when releases from the reservoir are low, Aspen will purchase the power generated by an 800 kilowatt unit. During the high flow season which coincides with the irrigation season, Tri-State will purchase the power generated by a 7.2 megawatt generator. Tri-State is a large power wholesaler based in Westminster and delivers power to many electric cooperatives including San Miguel Power and Delta-Montrose Electric Associations.
The power purchased by Tri-State will likely be delivered to its customers nearest to the hydropower project. The power purchased by the City of Aspen has to take a far more circuitous route. Since there is no direct route from the hydropower plant to Aspen, some power trades will most likely take place. Tri-State, in association with Western Area Power Administration will deliver the summer power to Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). MEAN then delivers the power to its nearest customer which will likely be the City of Delta.
The small generator is scheduled to go online in the fall of 2013 and the power will be purchased by Aspen. The large generator would be put online in the spring of 2014 and the summer production will be made available to Tri-State.
Tri-County is currently finalizing an interconnection agreement with Tri-State. The interconnection facility is estimated to cost approximately $3.6 million. Another $11.5 million will be spent for the installation of the generators at the Ridgway Dam. “We’re estimating the total cost of the project at around $16.5 million,” Berry said.
Most of the funding for the project will come from loans that the district has acquired from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. This is the first hydropower project that the CWCB has funded and it has committed $13 million to the cause.
According to Berry, “Once the power plant is constructed it will be a tremendous source of revenue for the district. It will be a $30 to $40 million dollar benefit to the district over the next 30 years and we plan to invest that money in our customers.”
For more information about the project, contact Tri-County Water at 249-3369.blog comments powered by Disqus