Video: Ridgway Dam hydro project commissioned — Telluride Daily Planet

Ridgway Dam
Ridgway Dam

From the Telluride Daily Planet (Heather Sackett):

On Friday, the Tri-County Water Conservancy District officially commissioned a new hydropower project at the Ridgway Dam.

The celebratory event included refreshments, tours of the powerhouse and a history of the project. The 8-megawatt, two-turbine, two-generator plant will produce about 24,000 megawatt-hours of electricity in an average water year, enough to power 2,500 homes a year with all their electricity needs. Construction on the Uncompahgre River project began in November 2012.

The City of Aspen and Tri-State Generation and Transmission are purchasing the power and Aspen is also buying the Renewable Energy Credits created by the project during the winter months. The Town of Telluride won a bid to purchase the RECs for June through September for $48,000. RECs are market-based instruments that convey the environmental value of renewable energy between buyers and sellers. Each REC provides proof that 1 megawatt-hour of renewable energy has been generated.

Buying the RECs was a step toward achieving the Telluride Renewed Challenge, an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and for 100 percent of the community’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser says though those aims might now prove too lofty, the town still likes to lead by example…

According to a press release from the Colorado Small Hydro Association, the emissions reduction benefit from the new plant is equivalent to removing approximately 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or about 4,400 cars from the road each year. Colorado Small Hydro Association President Kurt Johnson, of Ophir, said the Ridgway Dam hydro project is a great example of new hydro power on an existing dam.

“Only about 3 percent of the nation’s dams currently include hydropower,” Johnson said in a press release. “There is an enormous untapped opportunity to generate new clean energy using existing infrastructure.”

General Manager of the Tri-County Water Conservancy District Mike Berry said he is excited the project is complete and that it provided many local jobs during its construction.

“I’m glad we are coming to the end of it and the generator will be spinning for the rest of my life I hope,” Berry said.

More hydroelectric coverage here.

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