Energy policy — hydroelectric: Local landowners around the proposed South Slope project upper reservoir are assessing impacts

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

Colorado Springs developers Jim and Mark Morley want to build a pumped hydroelectric storage plant here, in which water is pumped uphill to a reservoir when demand is low and released downhill to power turbines when demand is high or other parts of a system, such as solar or wind, are not generating much power. It has the support of lawmakers, who passed a bill [HB 11-1083] to encourage such projects, signed by the governor last month; energy giant TransCanada, which may be interested in building and running the plant; and some in Penrose, who say the 300 temporary and 30 permanent jobs will be a boost to the economy. Said Collins, “Are we fighting a losing battle up here? Probably. But for the tenacious, no road is impossible.”[…]

Residents in the Red Rocks at Beaver Creek subdivision, 25 homes on 72 lots above the Morleys’ property, say they knew nothing about the bill or the project. They only recently launched a website,, to voice their opposition. They worry about noise from turbines and pumps, extra truck traffic, ground vibrations from the equipment, impacts to the view, and declining property values. They worry eminent domain could be used to seize land. And some have a larger critique of the project: that it isn’t renewable energy at all.

The water, 13,000 acre-feet, or 4.2 billion gallons, a one-time purchase from a still-unidentified water-rights holder, would be piped from the Arkansas River, and then reused over and over again. But it would take power, equal to about 20 percent of what the plant generates, to pump the water uphill, which would come from elsewhere in the power grid. Opponents say that means it should not be considered “renewable.”

“What we’re trying to do is uncover the truth about the South Slope project,” said resident Robert “Hutch” Hutchison.

“Everybody’s going to be in favor of a hydroelectric plant that is renewable and green, but that’s not what this is,” said Collins.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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