Energy policy — hydroelectric generation: Morley’s and J-Power hope to get South Slope Project on Xcel’s preferred project plan

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Here’s an update on the proposed hydroelectric pumpback project near Penrose, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The project, which would include two small reservoirs near Brush Hollow Reservoir, is still awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Construction is still seven or eight years down the road, Thome said. The project would require about 7,000 acre-feet of water, which would be obtained in a one-time purchase and replenished for evaporation. Water would be pumped to the upper reservoir when energy demand on the grid is lower and run downhill through generators during peak load periods. A total of 320 megawatts would be generated. While the system would be about 76 percent efficient, it would act as a battery to balance power transmission for other renewable technologies when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, [Steve Thome, spokesman for J-Power USA] said…

The South Slope Project was one of 113 vendors who submitted proposals for Xcel’s plan to meet goals to shift at least 20 percent of its power from coal to wind, solar and other renewable sources. The plan is being evaluated by the Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to make a decision in November, said spokesman Mark Stutz…

The South Slope partners would be looking at a long-term contract that would allow Xcel to operate the hydro plant as needed, rather than simply selling the power on a spot basis…

Natural gas plants are called “peakers” within the industry and are valuable because they can meet peak demand needs, or in the case of renewable sources, supply energy when wind and solar sources go off-line. With a pumpback plant, there would be continued demand for power at night to move the water uphill, Thome explained. “The wind blows day and night in Colorado,” Thome said.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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