Roaring Fork watershed: ‘The payback on it is long-term, as it is for all hydro projects’ — Mark O’Meara (City of Carbondale)


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

O’Meara, who has been Carbondale’s utility director for five years, is working with outside consultants, the federal government and other entities and agencies to investigate the potential for drawing hydroelectric power from South Nettle Creek. Nettle Creek, fed by a spring that rises on the lower northwestern slopes of Mount Sopris, has been the town’s main source of drinking water for more than 100 years. The town also has well fields along the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers that supplement Nettle Creek if the creek’s flows drop below a certain level, or if demand rises beyond the creek’s capacity.

The idea of generating hydroelectric power from Nettle Creek has been discussed for decades, O’Meara said, but this is the closest the town has gotten to making it happen.“There’s a whole bunch of players,” O’Meara said, including the Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE), CLEER (Clean Energy Economy for the Region), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)…

“The payback on it is long-term,” he said, “as it is for all hydro projects. Green energy is very expensive. It’s as simple as that.”

…according to an SGM report, the allowed uses for Carbondale’s Nettle Creek water right do not currently include hydroelectric generation. Instead, the town’s water rights are decreed as being for municipal purposes, such as water service to homes, for treatment of sewage and for fire protection. It may be necessary to go through the state’s water courts to add power production to that water decree as an allowed use, the SGM report stated.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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