From the Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):
The city of Aspen is about $3.3 million into the Castle Creek hydroelectric project so far, with officials hoping to apply this summer for federal permission to construct the power facility. The project, if granted a “conduit exemption” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is expected to remain within its $6.19 million budget, Aspen public works director Phil Overeynder said. “The unknown cost is permitting and what it will take to complete the permitting,” Overeynder said.
The conduit exemption would allow the city to bypass the more complex federal licensing process. In deciding whether or not the city qualifies, FERC “puts a high degree of deference” to state agencies which monitor natural resources, such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Overeynder said. The DOW has looked at the project, and requested that the city obtain a study to determine minimum baseline water levels in Castle Creek. That study is nearly complete and established a minimum flow of 13.3 cubic feet per second to protect fish and other aquatic life. Once FERC gets the application, Overeynder said he hopes to have a decision within six months, although there is no guaranteed timeframe for a ruling.
The city has spent $632,653 on design of the “energy center,” which would house the turbine; $272,850 on planning; and $99,091 on studies related to the project, according to information provided by the city of Aspen…
The city has budgeted $665,000 for construction of the energy center, including controls inside the building and a pipe to return water to Castle Creek. The turbine itself is expected to cost about $1.4 million, including a pressure-reducing valve, Overeynder said.