From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):
The board, which met Monday, forwarded a two-page letter to David Hornbacher, the city’s deputy director of utilities and renewable energy, on Friday — the final day the city was accepting comments on its draft application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the hydro plant. Attached were 58 pages of attachments comprising the analyses of four experts hired by the county rivers board to review the city’s studies of the project. The county spent $50,000 on the review, which involved a Denver water attorney, Boulder engineering consulting firm, an aquatic specialist based in Eagle and a Telluride firm hired to review the expected energy output of the plant.
“We have significant concerns about the health and quantity of the waters in Castle and Maroon creeks,” said the board’s letter, signed by Chairman Greg Poschman. “The city’s hydroelectric project represents a potential conflict with the mission of our board.”
Among the board’s suggestions: The city should define and preserve a “healthy” streamflow as opposed to merely adhering to minimum streamflows.
The board also called on the city to make a legal commitment to maintain stream quality and quantity throughout the year as part of its operation of the hydro plant, and concluded that more complete data is needed over a longer period of time in order to assess the impacts associated with the hydroelectric facility.
Aspen is seeking a “conduit exemption” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its project. Such exemptions, granted for small hydroelectric projects that use infrastructure that is primarily used for other purposes, involve less onerous environmental reviews.