Energy policy — hydroelectric: Colorado Springs Utilities shows off new plant

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

The newest mini-plant, the Cascade Hydroelectric Plant, began operating three weeks ago. Thursday, to mark Earth Day, Utilities showed off the facility. South of U.S. Highway 24 near Cascade, it’s no bigger than a two-car garage, and the power is enough for just 450 homes, but officials say this and its three other small hydroelectric plants are a key part of Utilities’ renewable energy portfolio. “It just makes sense. You’ve got this water coming down the hill, you break pressure with it and you generate electricity with it,” said Drew Rankin, general manager of energy supply.

The water comes by pipeline from the North Slope reservoirs on Pikes Peak. Before, there was a pressure release valve at the site, to slow the rushing water as it runs to French Creek, then Fountain Creek, and then by pipeline to the hydroelectric plant in Manitou Springs. The new plant cost $5 million, funded by interest-free renewable energy bonds, and generates 850 kilowatts.

Hydroelectric power is cheap, about $35 per megawatt hour, compared to $140 for wind power, Rankin said. Utilities gets 8 percent of its power from hydroelectric energy, but 80 percent of that is bought from the Western Area Power Administration.

More hydroelectric power here.

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