Lake Granby releases aid power plant project
Crews began work in May on the Granby Hydropower Plant at the base of Granby Dam on the Colorado River. This will be the second Colorado-Big Thompson Project hydropower plant owned and operated by Northern Water Conservancy District. The first was the Robert Trout Hydropower Plant at the outlet to Carter Lake, which began operating in May 2012.
Scheduled to be complete in May 2016, the Granby Hydro Plant will generate a maximum of 5 million kilowatt hours annually. The plant’s renewable power is intended to benefit customers in Grand and Jackson counties. Granby-based Mountain Parks Electric Inc. has contracted with Northern Water to purchase the power, according to Northern.
In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation granted Northern Water a Lease of Power Privilege to construct the Granby Hydro Plant. Northern Water then secured a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to construct the $5.7 million facility.
Lake Granby releases
Before Granby Hydro Plant construction could proceed it was necessary to make releases through the reservoir’s radial gates and spillway rather than via the dam’s outlet works.
This unusual method of releasing water from Lake Granby to accommodate the hydro plant’s construction was possible this year because Lake Granby is nearly full. However, the reservoir’s high water level also presents several future operational challenges, such as ice buildup on the reservoir outlet’s radial gates, and creating space in Lake Granby for 2016 spring runoff.
For these reasons Northern Water and Reclamation began pre-emptive operational releases from Lake Granby through the reservoir’s spillway earlier this month. Although the required release rate in August is 40 cubic feet per second, Northern Water and other East Slope diverters are adding 35 cfs to that release rate to benefit endangered fish in the Colorado River. In addition, Lake Granby’s operational releases are approximately 125 cfs, bringing the reservoir’s current total release to 200 cfs, until further notice.
Northern Water and Reclamation have been and will continue to communicate with Grand County, Trout Unlimited, and others during these operations at Lake Granby.
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