Energy policy — hydroelectric: Updates on two west slope micro-hydro projects

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

Both projects penciled out looking like profitable opportunities in the early stages. The difference in bringing the two to completion turned out to be the cost, complexity, and lengthy compliance burden of federal regulations. The [Tarr family of Delta’s] hydro project is a planned 27 kilowatt (kW) turbine that will be built on their own property using their own irrigation water. The project has received USDA grant funding and loan approvals and, says Janell Dawson, daughter of Pete and Sandra Tarr, they hope to be producing electricity a year from now.

By contrast, [Mike Mason of Cedaredge’s] idea of using water flows of Kiser Creek to generate 750 kW from a turbine located near Hwy. 65 and Old Grand Mesa Road hit the federal regulatory wall. He explained that agency known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is known among low-head hydro enthusiasts for the project killing complexity of its regulatory scheme. The FERC regulatory regimen came into play with Mason’s project because it would be located on public land administered by the Forest Service. The Tarr family project by contrast is on their own property…

Mason said that low-head hydro project proposals can also run into problems finding a buyer for their power if the electricity generation is produced by seasonal water flows, or if the amount of power generated is not in at least the several megawatt range.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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