Flaming Gorge pipeline: The project is morphing into a hydropower project, Aaron Million hopes to attract collaborators

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Entrepreneur Aaron Million on Friday also invited collaboration on his $3 billion project. But skepticism, environmental issues and uncertainty surround it.

A south-metro group [Colorado Wyoming Cooperative Water Supply Project] simultaneously is pressing ahead in a rival effort to sustain future growth by diverting water from the Green River-fed Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming — before the water flows into the heavily subscribed Colorado River Basin. Colorado government officials and water authorities have called for a stakeholder dialogue to explore the overall concept more carefully…

Million welcomed the interest. “When we started this project, nobody had ever considered the Flaming Gorge options,” he said. “We’ll do everything we can to facilitate that discussion.” The Million Conservation Resources Group received offers of “several hundred million dollars of equity capital” to build a pipeline, Million said. He declined to give details…

He likely will pursue permitting through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission instead, he said, due to the emerging “alternative energy” dimension. Million said elevation changes between Wyoming and Colorado enable generation of 70 megawatts of power and that this could be increased to 500 to 1,000 megawatts…

FERC’s review process is more structured, Million said, with firm deadlines that could help him meet a 2 1/2-year timetable for securing permits…

“This is an expensive and technically complicated wild goose chase,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, senior analyst at Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, an environmental-policy group.
“As an entire pipeline, this would be a net consumer of energy” because diverted water would have to be pumped across the Continental Divide, Tellinghuisen said.

Launching a stakeholder dialogue now “makes no sense” and “will divert resources and attention from more realistic solutions,” Colorado River District manager Eric Kuhn said in a memo to state round-table members…

“The reality is we’ve overdelivered [ed. under the Colorado River Compact] to the lower- basin states since 1922,” Million said. “Those surplus waters that actually belong to the upper basin have been used to generate economic development in the lower-basin states.”

More coverage from Wyoma Groenenberg writing for the Wyoming Business Report. From the article:

There also has been opposition to moving water out of Flaming Gorge. Opponents have argued that the reservoir provides recreational opportunities and increases the amount of tourism dollars spent in the area. Others along the Wyoming I-80 corridor also have expressed opposition.

For example, in 2009, the City of Laramie opposed construction of the project and recommended that “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wyoming Board of Control withhold any and all permits and approvals for the proposed project,” a resolution of the Laramie City Council shows.

The resolution continues saying that “250,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River upstream of Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Sweetwater County across the state of Wyoming, including a portion of Albany County [and] entails utilizing Lake Hattie in Albany County,” which could facilitate the influx of invasive water species, noxious weeds, hurt Wyoming’s fishing and agricultural industries, and more.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Colorado Wyoming Cooperative Water Supply Project coverage here.

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