Hydroelectric project awarded $965,000 grant

Construction could begin this year on upgrading the hydroelectric plant on the Colorado River near Palisade with a $965,000 federal grant.

The Bureau of Reclamation on Tuesday awarded the grant to the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District and Grand Valley Water Users Association.

The grant is one of 43 WaterSmart grants made to agencies around the country and will help fund a $5.2 million project to replace and upgrade the turbines at the plant.

The turbines now in the plant are the original equipment installed in 1932, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District General Manager Max Schmidt said.

He decided to seek the grant last year after the plant was shut down and he inspected the turbines.

“One of them I was afraid to run it was in such bad shape,” Schmidt said.

Better turbines will make it possible for the plant to generate 4.1 megawatts, or an expansion of 1.35 megawatts.

It also will allow for the plant to generate an additional 6,000 megawatt-hours.

The improvement and new power generation will maintain and protect the plant’s existing water right and help assure that there will be enough water in the Colorado River’s 15-mile reach for endangered fish, in particular the Colorado pike minnow, razorback sucker and humpback chub, the Colorado River District noted.

“Conserving water through improving water and energy efficiency is important to help communities stretch limited water supplies,” acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen said in announcing the grants. “Through the projects announced today, Reclamation is helping local water managers with another tool in the toolkit to meet the ever-growing water demands.”


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