Energy policy — hydroelectric: Telluride is assessing micro-hydroelectric potential in its wastewater and water systems

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From the Telluride Watch (Karen James):

The first project is a feasibility study of the town’s existing wastewater and water systems to determine where it would make the most sense to install turbines to generate electricity. “The goal is to have the whole system analyzed and have most promising locations highlighted…and to learn how much it would cost,” said Public Works Project Manager Karen Guglielmone, who anticipated the town will issue a Request for Proposal for the analysis in the coming weeks. As it stands now, valves found throughout the system are used to bleed off pressure from the town’s existing, gravity-fed system. “That energy could be used in the right circumstances,” she explained.

In addition to its ability to generate power using existing infrastructure, retrofitting the existing system for micro-hydro would not require additional staffing for monitoring, would have no adverse environmental impacts, and would not require potentially controversial institutional or public process elements, according to a list of project benefits identified by Guglielmone in a memo to council…

The second micro-hydro project slated for completion in the coming year would be to install a continuous discharge monitoring station upstream of the Jud Wiebe Bridge as recommended in the 2009 Stillwell Micro-Hydro Feasibility Study. Its goal would be to obtain real-world discharge data to refine the study’s cost-benefit analysis and to better quantify its potential adverse environmental impacts, including drying up approximately 1,800 feet of Cornet Creek and Cornet Falls for a portion of the year. “We have to find out what is the actual discharge in Cornet Creek,” explained Guglielmone, who indicated that the existing studies have so far relied on hydrologic modeling. “It would be useful to have more refined data.” A first, recommended option being considered by the town would repair an existing diversion dam on Cornet Creek above the falls and run a new, pressurized pipe to a small powerhouse near the Jud Wiebe trailhead. Preliminary production estimates suggest the project could produce between 780,000 and 980,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually, or about one-third of the town government’s 2009 electric use. It would also eliminate 22 percent of its 2009 carbon emissions, for roughly $1.1 million. A second option would require a new diversion dam be build on Cornet Creek above the Stillwell adit and replacing the existing water line from the adit with pressurized pipe to the same powerhouse site near the Jud Wiebe trailhead.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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