Town of Grand Lake installs micro-hydro energy recovery system
Earlier this year in mid-July the Town of Grand Lake completed work on a micro-hydro energy recovery system (MHERS) inside the Town’s water treatment plant.
The MHERS is a seven-kilowatt system that captures energy inherently produced by the flow of water through the Town’s existing water supply line, which flows between Tonahutu Creek and the water treatment plant. Water from Tonahutu Creek falls approximately 40-feet from the intake to the treatment plant, roughly 420-feet away. The MHERS captures the energy exerted by the falling water, which was previously not being captured, and retains it.
Officials expect the MHERS to produce approximately 40,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually, which will help to lower the Town’s energy costs for the water treatment plant. Grand Lake worked out a net metering agreement with Mountain Parks Electric regarding the MHERS.
According to a press releases from Grand Lake the MHERS and water treatment plant, “now produces as much electricity as it consumes, or a little more.”
Grand Lake’s Mayor, Jim Peterson, was pleased with the development, stating, “The clean energy generated by the micro-hydro energy recovery system will be fed into the Mountain Parks Electric grid, lowering the town’s electricity costs.”
Telluride Energy was the Town’s consultant for the project and helped Grand Lake clear some of the regulatory hurdles the project faced. According to information from the Town of Grand Lake the project received, “rapid federal approval from the Federal Energy Regulator Commission thanks to 2013 federal small hydro reform legislation authored by Colorado’s U.S. Representative Diana DeGette.”
The project was also aided through the electrical inspection process because of Colorado State legislative action from 2014 that reformed legislation relating to small hydro power plants.
“Grand Lake is providing a great example for other mountain towns, generating new clean energy from existing water supply infrastructure,” stated Telluride Energy CEO Kurt Johnson.
The firm Rentricity installed the system and ran it through its initial paces. Rentricty was selected for the project through the Town’s competitive bidding process. Original cost estimates for the project reached as high as $250,000 but bids provided by Rentricity came in at $70,000. After change orders associated with the project were completed the total cost rose to $85,000.
Grand Lake Water Superintendent Dave Johnson and Plant Operator Jerry Hassholdt readied the water treatment plant or installation of the MHERS. The Town removed one of the plants interior walls to provide better access to the installation area.
Along with Grand Lake several other Colorado mountain towns have installed micro-hydro plants in their water treatment infrastructure including: Ouray, Basalt and Carbondale.
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When the East Troublesome Fire raged across Grand County last October, thousands of people were evacuated from the US Highway 34 corridor in 90 minutes, thanks in part to the preparation of evacuation maps.