Montrose utility putting power plant in Ridgway Dam

MONTROSE — An effort to retrofit the Ridgway Dam so it can produce hydroelectric power by late 2014 is under way.

Tri-County Water in Montrose has obtained a permit from the Bureau of Reclamation, Mike Berry of Tri-County Water said. The utility also is negotiating purchasing agreements for the electricity.

The plant will cost $9 million to $15 million to build and produce 1.8 megawatts to 2.5 megawatts, depending on configuration, Berry said.

The dam was finished in 1987 and was built with a hydroelectric tunnel in the event power production was ever sought.

In 2002, a nationwide renewable-energy push led Bureau of Reclamation and Tri-County officials to determine the hydroelectric plant was feasible.

Berry said Tri-County was awarded the permit after it was the only applicant for the project. He said the company will have to rebuild some portions of the tunnel before the plant can be operational.

“We are going to have to structurally modify the design and structurally change the design of the pipe, and all the while being careful of the dam’s structural stability,” Berry said.

Tri-County must take into consideration any possible seismic activity that could lead to a dam collapse, Berry said.

Berry said the company has been working with Tri-State Generation & Transmission, the San Miguel Power Association and the city of Aspen to secure purchasing agreements for the electricity.

The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing an environmental assessment of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. The deadline for written comments is May 27. They can be sent to Steve McCall, Bureau of Reclamation, 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106, Grand Junction, CO, 81506; or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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