Taylor Park Dam hydroelectric retrofit

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Here’s an update on the proposal to retrofit the Taylor Dam with hydroelectric generation facilities, from Evan Dawson writing for the Crested Butte News. From the article:

Last fall the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority announced they would offer $15,000 in matching grants for entities willing to study potential small-scale hydropower projects across the state.

Hearing this, the UGRWCD invited several members of a hydropower-engineering firm from the Front Range out for a tour of the Gunnison Valley to see if the local waterways had any potential. The engineers from TCB Aecomm said the Taylor Park Dam could be easily outfitted with a hydroelectric generator capable of generating one megawatt of electricity. With a little more work, the engineers estimated, the dam could generate even more electricity, but how much more was hard to say without further study.

Following [a recent] tour, the UGRWCD met with representatives from GCEA and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association (which holds rights to the water in Taylor Park Reservoir) and the three entities agreed to become partners in a hydropower feasibility study of the dam and split the necessary matching grant funds, which totaled $15,000. The Water Resources and Power Development Authority ended up approving 11 grant requests across the state, including the UGRWCD’s. The district will be sending out a request for proposals soon to engineering firms interested in completing the feasibility study, which should commence sometime this spring. “We’re going to make it an open process by sending out an RFP. We hope to have a contractor selected by the end of March,” Kugel says.

If a hydropower project is determined to be feasible, the UGRWCD will step back and GCEA will oversee the construction, generation and sale of power from Taylor Dam. “Our main goal was to have a hand in the feasibility study,” Kugel says. A lease for power production would also need to be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the dam itself. Kugel says the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association would be the most logical entity to apply for that lease. “With this feasibility study we’ll really be able to quantify the value [of a hydropower project] and hopefully move ahead,” Wells says…

Taylor Park Reservoir sits about nine miles northeast of Almont, at the end of a winding narrow canyon that is well known for its incredible fishing.
The reservoir is held back by a 200-foot-high earthen dam that stretches more than 600 feet across the narrowest section of Taylor Canyon before it opens up into the high plains of Union Park.
Two giant pipes, or penstocks, carry water from the bottom of Taylor Reservoir to a gatehouse on the other side of the dam. The penstocks lie in a tunnel carved through solid rock on the north side of the canyon…

Beyond the gatehouse, the two penstocks stretch more than 200 feet down a narrow tunnel. One of the penstocks is slightly larger than the other, and is the primary target for installing a hydroelectric generator…

Taking up most of the space in this room were a pair of large hydraulic pistons that control the intake gates. Most of the work to install a hydropower turbine would take place back in the tunnel.
There, workers would have to remove a section of the larger penstock and install a turbine. The penstock was divided into eight-foot sections that were held together by no fewer than 25 large bolts. Since the penstocks themselves are four feet in diameter, and the tunnel they are situated in is a little more than 10 feet in diameter, there would be very little room for error…

From the turbine’s installation point, electric cable would be wired to a transformer that sits just outside the gatehouse. Wells says there is an electric line in place between the transformer and the main line on County Road 742. Wells says the existing line has a carrying capacity of one and a half to two megawatts. “There would be some fairly sophisticated metering that would go on. That transformer would more than likely be the point, but it is an old service point. We might want to upgrade that line out to the road. It’s a new chunk of line going forward after that. We want to plug into the most reliable source,” Wells says. Kugel says the power that could potentially be generated by the dam could satisfy all the homes between Almont and Tincup.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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