Micro-hydroelectric system added to Grand Lake water treatment plant | SkyHiNews.com

Micro-hydroelectric system added to Grand Lake water treatment plant

Andrew Wise
Special to the Sky Hi News
Grand Lake's new hydroelectric energy recovery system.
Courtesy Photo |

The Grand Lake water treatment plant will now double as a small electricity producer after the instillation of a small hydroelectric energy recovery system completed on July 14. The system will capture the energy from the flow of water between Tonahutu Creek and the treatment plant.

The system will produce 40,000 kilowatt-hours annually, according to a release from the Town of Grand Lake. That’s enough to power around four average US homes per year. The power will feed directly into the Mountain Parks Electric grid, reducing the total amount of power that comes into the grid from carbon-producing sources. The project, which cost the town $70,000, comes in the wake of a series of legislative efforts at the federal and state level to speed up the approval and inspection processes for small-scale hydroelectric systems. The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, which was authored by Colorado U.S. Representative Diana DeGette, reduced the complexity of the federal permitting process for projects below 10,000 killowatts of capacity. Grand Lake’s project is a seven-kilowatt system. The Colorado bill came in 2014 and served the same purpose within the state, specifically streamlining the inspection process specifically for small hydroelectric operations.

Telluride Energy, the Town’s central consultant on the project, has been involved in projects ranging from an 11-kilowatt plant in Silverton to an 8-megawatt hydroelectric project in a dam outside Ridgeway.

“Grand Lake is providing a great example for other mountain towns,” said Telluride Energy CEO Kurt Johnson in the press release.

The actual design and equipment for the system came from a New York-based company called Rentricity. The company was involved in a similar system in a water treatment plant near Ferron, Utah, as well as many other small-scale hydroelectric projects up and down the east coast and in California.

It’s the second hydroelectric project to go online in Grand County this summer. In May, two 600-kilowatt turbines started producing power from water flowing through Granby Dam. That system is projected to produce 5 million kilowatt-hours of power per year, enough for around 370 households.

Andrew Wise is Sky-Hi’s summer intern focusing on environmental issues. He is a junior studying journalism and environmental policy at Western Washington University. Contact him at: andrew.wise2013@gmail.com


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